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Chisolm Massacre : 


"Home Rule" in Mississippi. 

By James Mf' Wells. 

Of the U. S. Internal Revenue Service. 



Chisolm Monument Association. 





By Transfer 

D. L Public Libripy 

AUG 1 7 1936 


The Faithful Wife, Fond Mother and Devoted Friend, 

whose bitter tears, 

like the blood of her martyred and beloved dead, 

fall to the earth and pass from sight 

Unheeded and Unavenged, 

these pages are affectionately inscribed- 


On Sunday, the twenty-ninth of April, 1877, a body 
of three hundred men, styHng themselves "the best citi- 
zens" of Kemper county, in the State of Mississippi, 
conspiring together and co-operating with the sheriff 
and other officers of the county, coolly and premedi- 
tatedly murdered three men and two children; one of 
the latter a young and beautiful girl, and tKe other a 
delicate boy aged thirteen years. Against this act 
humanity itself, where humanity finds lodgment in the 
breasts of men, still cries out for vengeance; and 
the withering condemnation of an outraged public senti- 
ment is everywhere turned upon the whole people of a 
State who stand supinely by, dumb and immovable 
spectators of such a crime without so much as a pre- 
tended effort toward the enforcement of the law against 
its perpetrators. 

The inability of the courts of the country to arrest or 
punish is now admitted, and it is sought to palliate and 
justify the offense by invading the forbidden and hal- 
lowed precincts of the grave, and assailing the characters 
of the victims whose voices are hushed in the unbroken 
sleep of death. In behalf of justice to the living or 
dead, the laws of the land and the wail of the widow 
and orphan are alike unavailing. 

5 Introduction, 

Having been providentially called to witness this 
atrocity and its results, in their worst form and aspect, 
and knowing much of the men whose hands were 
employed in the bloody work, as well as of the causes 
which prompted them to its enactment; and, above all, 
being thoroughly acquainted with the lives and char- 
acters of the victims and the circumstances surrounding 
those who are left to mourn their untimely and terrible 
death, a sense of a solemn and imperative duty has 
impelled the author to undertake the difficult task which 
has resulted in the production of these pages. Nor has 
this been done with the hope of feward or fear of con- 
demnation from any political organization or other source. 
The book is a simple record of facts, and for whatever 
there may be in them calculated to win plaudits from 
one or incur the displeasure of another the writer is in no 
way responsible. In their preparation, however, the 
necessity of producing something more than a simple 
and unqualified statement by which to establish the 
authenticity of the subject treated has been kept 
steadily in view, and where the circumstances seemed in 
any way to require it, some data or tangible proof of 
the correctness of every assertion made has been given, 
and the time, place and manner of its occurrence fixed. 
The facts, dating back as far as 1870, are gleaned from 
personal observation of the author, whose business, car- 
rying him into different parts of the State, has been of 
such a nature as to lead to a close investigation of 
the moral, social and political status and conduct of 
the people. The past four years, living in a county 

Introduction, y 

adjoining that of Kemper, which he has visited regularly 
and often, he has been made acquainted from time to 
time with the men and things here discussed. 

With regard to the existence of the conspiracy to 
murder Judge Chisolm and his associates — which had 
its beginning soon after the close of the war, and culmi- 
nated only when the last sod of earth was placed upon 
the grave of the faithful and heroic daughter, Cornelia — 
the circumstances of the murder itself, the subsequent 
treatment of the wounded, their sufferings and the man- 
ner of their death and burial, the writer is indebted to 
his own eyes, to the death-bed declarations of Judge 
Chisolm, and to the story as it came from the pale lips 
of the martyred girl, while the angels stood waiting to 
waft her spirit above. To all this is added the sworn 
testimony of more than twenty unimpeachable wit- 
nesses now living, whose names for their safety only are 
as yet withheld. 

This evidence was taken by order of Attorney-General 
Devens, at the instance or demand of the British Min- 
ister at Washington, and was done for the purpose of 
ascertaining the facts with regard to the citizenship and 
death of Angus McLellan, the alleged British subject, 
one of the victims of the slaughter. To make this work 
complete and reliable, a special agent — Mr. G. K. Chase 
— was sent from Washington to co-operate with U. S. 
District-Attorney Lea, of Jackson, Mississippi, and these 
gentlemen, in company with Gen. Geo. C. McKee, of 
Jackson, and the writer, visited Meridian and De Kalb, 
where the facts were obtained, in strict accordance with 

8 Introduction, 

which these pages are written. The coohiess and delib- 
eration of the plot to entrap the victims under a hollow 
pretense of executing the law, and then to murder them 
in cold blood; the shooting of Gilmer and McLellan on 
the streets and the assault of the mob upon the jail 
soon after; the murder of the little boy Johnny by 
Rosser, the leader of the savage horde, and the terrible 
vengeance visited upon the assassin's head by Judge 
Chisolm; the heroic defense of the father by the brave 
girl, and the patient suffering of the wounded through 
all the days that followed the dark Sabbath, till death 
came to their relief; all taken together afford a theme 
well calculated to enliven the fancy of a writer of the 
most extravagant tale of fiction, and cannot fail to 
arouse the sympathy and indignation of every honest 
heart throughout the world where the facts are known. 
A reproach to the civilization of the century in which 
we live, the cheek of every true lover of all that is 
worthy of adoration in woman will mantle with shame 
when a record of this horror shall desecrate the pages 
which perpetuate the memory of a boasted chivalry, and 
American manhood must deny its name and existence 
so long as the blood of Cornelia and Johnny Chisolm is 

" And do we dream we hear 
The far, low cry of fear, 
Where in the Southern land 
The masked barbaric band, 
Under the covert night, 
Still fight the coward's fight. 
Still strike the assassin's blow — 


Smite childhood, girlhood low ', 

Great Justice! canst thou see 

Unmoved that such things be? 

See murderers go free, 

Unsought? Bruised in her gi-ave 

The girl who fought to save 

Brother and sire. She died for man. 

She leads the lofty van 

Of hero women. Lift her name 

With ever-kindling fame. 

Her youth's consummate flower 

Took on the exalted dower 

Of martyrdom. And death 

And love put on her crown 

Of high renown. * * * * 

Cease, bells of freedom, cease ' 

Hush, happy songs of peace ! 

If such things yet may be. 

Sweet land of liberty. 

In thee, in thee ! " 

Notices of Press and Distinguished Men. 

*M do not know what arrangements have been made 
for the distribution and sale of this thrilling volume, but 
it ought to find a place in every public library at the 
North, and deserves to be read and pondered in every 
family. Sitting down to its perusal I allowed nothing 
to interrupt me until I had read every line of it. "^ * 
This volume if widely circulated, cannot fail to do much 
towards opening the eyes of the blind, unstopping the 
ears of the deaf, and melting the hearts of the obdurate." 
— William Lloyd Garrison. 

10 Introduction. 

"We would not be surprised to see it circulate as ex- 
tensively as Uncle Tom's Cabin." — National RepublicaUy 
Washington^ D. C. 

"What heroism ! What wonderful courage, endurance, 
love ! Cornelia Chisolm will live with Virginia and Lu- 
cretia. I trust her sad story may be told to endless gen- 
erations, and that the fearful caste that destroyed her 
may find her memory ever its most deadly foe." — Eugene 
Lawrence^ of Harpers' Weekly. 

" Discloses a condition of society which it is impossi- 
ble for one not personally cognizant of the facts to com- 
prehend. * * * The heroism of the dying girl is 
deeply touching." — Inter-Ocean^ Chicago^ III. 

"A lurid picture of Home Rule." — Chicago Tribune, 

"A picture of society which is horrible to contemplate." 
— Indianapolis Journal. 

"A complete history of the Chisolm tragedy, including 
the causes leading to this and other terrible crimes." — 
Burlington (la.) Hvwkeye, 

"A faithful history as far as it goes, of the civilization 
we have in Mississippi. * * -j^- ^ chapter of the 
outrages practiced upon Republicans, which equals the 
religious persecutions as given in Fox's book of Martyrs." 
— Ho7t. H. R. Pease. 

" The book is written with deep feeling, yet with a 
personal repression in the writer, that, under the circum- 
stances, reaches the sublime." — Mary Clemmer. 

"The book itself is a monument to Judge Chisolm 
and his dutiful and heroic children." — R. B. Stone, late 
Chancellor of Mississippi. 


CHAPTER I — (p. 15) — Biographical Sketch of W. W. Chisolm and 
Emily S. Mann, his wife. Birth of Cornelia. 

CHAPTER II— (p. 22.)— Life in Kemper in the good old ante-bellum 

CHAPTER III— (p. 30.)— The Gullys. Their early career and reign 
of outlawry. Death of Sam Gully and attempt of the Gullys to 
assassinate Rush. The 'Acre Tax." Pioneer Repubhcans. 

CHAPTER IV — (p. 46.) — The caldron of political rancor. Intro- 
duction of the Free School system, and origin and growth of 
the Ku Klux spirit. The *' Sixteenth Section" school fund. 
Report of Superintendent Pease for 1870. The killing of Ball, 
and other terrible crimes committed by the Klan. 

CHAPTER V— (p. 64.)— Murder of Judge John McRea, and other 
deeds of blood. John P. Gilmer and the death of Hal Dawson. 
Judge Chisolm elected Sheriff by the popular vote. 

CHAPTER VI— (p. 73.)— Invasion by Alabamians into Mississippi. 
The Meridian riot and massacre. 

CHAPTER VII— (p. 80.)— Second invasion of Alabamians. Attempt 
to murder Judge Chisolm, Gilmer and others. Sworn testimony 
in the case. 

^^ Contents, 

CHAPTER VIII (p. 86.)-Southern Republicans. Unsuccessful at- 
tempt of Judge Dillard to take the life of Judge Chisolm. The 
combat. Anxiety of Cornelia for the welfare of her father 
Murder of Hon. W. S. Gambrel. 

CHAPTER IX-(p. 94.)_ Judge Chisolm again elected sheriff Nu- 
merical strength of the two parties in Kemper. A large white 
repubhcan vote. Taxation and its causes. " Speculations " in 
cotton. Charge of "forgery" against Judge Chisolm. which 
?i /,^^^.;^-ace war" of 1874, and conspiracy to take Judge 
Chisolm s life. 

CHAPTER X-(p. io9.)-The Chisolm family at DeKalb. Their 
daily life The political contest of 1875. Incendiary speeches 
ot the -gifted Lamar," and others. Sworn testimony of J P 
Gilmer Cornelia graduates with, high honors. Character of 
the girl. 

CHAPTER XI-(p. i25.)-The canvass for congress in 1876 Re 
peated attempts to intimidate and murder Judge Chisolm His 
house assailed at night by a mob. The assault renewed at day- 
light. Sam Meek and John W. Gully. Letter from Cornelia 
Sworn testimony of Judge Chisolm relating to the campaign. 

CHAPTER XII-(p. I39.)_lndictment of the rioters who assailed 
Judge Chisolm and his family. Unsuccessful attempts of the 
Deputy U. S. Marshal to make arrests. The Hon. Mr. Money 
contributes means to defend his constituency. Attempt to 
assassinate John W. Gully. Suspicion is directed upon B. F 

CHAPTER XIII-(p. 146.)-" Home rule and local self government" 
established. Judge Chisolm and Cornelia visit Washington and 
the North. Letter from the latter descriptive of her trip. 

CHAPTER XIV-(p. i54.)_The Judge and daughter turn their faces 
homeward. A glimpse of Kemper county society in the spring 

Contents, 15^ 

of 1877. Robbery and corruption. The Chisolm family again 
at home. Death of John W. Gully. Rush charged with the 

CHAPTER XV — (p. 162.) — Burial of Gully. Conspiracy to assassinate 
Judge Chisolm and all his associates. George S. Covert acting 
under the advice of eminent counsel. The fraudulent warrant 
of arrest. 

CHAPTER XVI— (p. 170.) — The Klans called together at DeKalb in 
the dead hour of night. Sinclair, the imbecile sheriff and ready 
tool of the conspirators. Arrest of the two Hoppers and Judge 
Chisolm. They are all taken to jail. The Judge is followed by 
his family and Angus McLellan. Gilmer and Rosenbaum arrested 
and the former shot to death. 

CHAPTER XVII — (p. 176.) — Mrs. Gilmer and the aged mother of the 
murdered man. Whipping and hanging of the two colored men 
to enforce evidence. The guards inside the jail. Cornelia goes 
for ammunition. The mother and Willie go to the stable 
McLellan shot. The mob break into the jail. The struggle of 
Mrs. Chisolm, Cornelia and Johnny against the savages. Johnny 
murdered and Rosser killed. The terrible scenes which followed. 

CHAPTER XVIII— (p. 189.)— Second assault of the mob upon Judge 
Chisolm and Cornelia; both shot and mortally wounded. The 
Judge carried home in a dying condition. Third assault of the 
mob ; heroism of the wounded girl. Assistance arrives. Gover- 
nor Stone visits the scene of the massacre. 

CHAPTER XIX — (p. 200.) — Letters of condolence and sympathy for 
the distressed family. 

CHAPTER XX— (p. 216.)— Mrs. Chisolm appeals to Governor Stone 
for aid ; it is denied. Death of Judge Chisolm and CorneHa. 

CHAPTER XXI— (p. 227.)— The character of the victims assailed 
after death. The newspapers of the State defend the murderers. 

14 Contents, 

CHAPTER XXII— (p. 241.)— The innocence of Rush established. 
Attempt to kidnap and murder him in Alabama. Grand Jurors 
chosen by democrats. False argument of J. Z. George. 

CHAPTER XXIII— (p. 255.)— The Governor has "no power to do 
anything at all" — and again he is all powerful. The real facts 
analyzed and the true state of Mississippi society and politics 

CHAPTER XXIV— (p. 265.)— Governor Stone's action endorsed by 
the people. Welch elected Sheriff of Kemper county. The 
Circuit Court. Six or seven of the murderers indicted. Judge 
Hamm's charge to the Grand Jury. Walter Riley condemned to 
death. No arrest of those indicted. Bulldozers still rampant 
and un whipped. The Governor's "powers " oncfe more. 

CHAPTER XXV— (p. 276.)— Names of the DeKalb rioters. They will 
be remembered. 

CHAPTER XXVI— (p. 279.)— Tribute to the memory of the martyred 

CHAPTER XXVII— (p. 287.)— A retrospect. Deductions drawn 
therefrom, left to the reader. 

The Chisolm Massacre; 




William Walla«e Chisolm, a sketch of whose eventful 
life and late tragic death will form, perhaps, the most 
important feature in the progress of this work, was born 
in Morgan county, Georgia, December 6th, 1830. At 
the age of sixteen years, together with his parents, he 
became a resident of Kemper county, Mississippi, a 
countiy v/hich, then as now, was infested with great 
numbers of wicked and lawless men, the records of 
whose bloody crimes are still fresh in the memor>^ 
of many of Kemper's oldest and most respected citizens. 
So marked was the spirit of violence and so light the 
regard for human life that the growth and improvement 
of the country was very slow; a condition which 
has followed its fortunes up to the present time. The 
accession of sober, industrious and trustworthy families 
to a community like that of Kemper, in those days, was 
welcomed and hailed with delight by all good people far 
and near, and the Chisolm family were not long in 

1 6 TJie Chisolm Massacre. 

establishing their claim upon the latter class, where they 
ever after took rank among the first. 

In the month of March, 185 1, the head of the family 
died, leaving William — then a boy nineteen years old — 
its guardian and protector. Three of the children were 
younger sisters, and on his death-bed the father exacted 
of the son the promise that he would discharge all obli- 
gations of the estate, which amounted to a large sum 
for those early times and primitive surroundings, and 
that he would also educate the three sisters and provide 
for them comfortably in life. To the faithful perform- 
ance of this duty young Chisolm at once set himself at 
work. How well he carried out this pledge the creditors 
or their heirs, and two of the sisters in good homes, sur- 
rounded by happy families, are still living to attest, 
while the mother, now at the ripe old age of seventy- 
four years, is provided with a neat cottage, situated on a 
farm which yields her a bountiful support, and that 
within sight of her early home in Mississippi, where all 
her children were reared and around which the survivors 
and their descendants are clustered to-day, if not happy, 
certainly honored and revered. 

The 29th of Oct., 1856, the subject of this sketch 
was married to Emily S. Mann, an accomplished young 
lady, a daughter of John W. Mann, who was a native 
of Amelia Island, Florida, a prominent lawyer and 
a gentleman of high literary and social culture. The 
career of the Manns, in the early settlement of Florida, 
was somewhat remarkable. The grandfather of Emily 
S. Mann, who owned a large tract of land under 

^^ Home Rule''' in Mississippi. ij 

a Spanish grant, was the first settler, and built the 
first house where the city of Fernandina now stands. 
In the dispute between the early American settlers 
in Florida and the Spanish authorities, in which the 
former sought to take from Spain the lands claimed 
by that government, the Manns, among others, took 
prominent part, and by virtue of superior intelligence, 
skill and bravery soon rose to distinction. These set- 
tlers were, many of them, driven from their homes, while 
others were put to death outright or carried off and 
compelled to drag out a life of refined torture as pris- 
oners in Moro Castle, Cuba. Whether the theory is 
correct or not, it is one of the inherent elements of 
human conjecture to credit and foster the belief that the 
strong characteristics which may in any way distinguish 
the conduct of individuals are sure to mark and mould, in 
some degree, the fortunes of their lineal posterity. Per- 
haps the bold and venturesome spirit which charac- 
terized the lives of this family in generations past, when 
the iron rule of Spain was laid heavily upon these early 
settlers, has had its influence in shaping the remarkable 
life and character of Emily Mann Chisolm. 

The education acquired by young Chisolm, up to the 
date of his marriage, was only such as could be gleaned 
at odd times in the common schools of the country, 
which were then very poor; but with the assistance of a 
dutiful and fond wife, his acquirements were soon made 
to equal the spirit of enterprise and just emulation 
already settled upon his heart. This dates the beginning 
of an eventful and prosperous life. 


1 8 TJic CJiisolm Massacre 

Full of vigor and manly strength, young Chisolm first 
entered upon the business of farming, almost the only 
legitimate pursuit then open to the young men of the 
country, most of whom preferred a life of idleness and 
debauch to one of uninterrupted toil. 

The 30th of January, 1858, W. W. Chisolm, at a 
special election held for the purpose of filling a vacancy 
in the office of magistrate, was elected to that important 
and honorable position in the beat or township in which 
he lived. 

It was on the eleventh of February, 1858, that Cor- 
nelia Josephine, the first fruit of the marriage of W. W. 
Chisolm and Emily S. Mann was born. The sublime 
character of this pure girl, who, nineteen years after, fell 
a victim of savage outlawry, and died while defending 
her father against the assault of a blood-thirsty mob, is 
worthy the emulation of America's most exalted woman- 
hood. Her young life, yielded up on the altar of filial 
love, and devotion to those principles of justice and right, 
which ever inspired the hearts of parent and child alike, 
cannot have been given in vain. The lesson taught by 
her example will live on, after the generation and the 
spirit which prompted these inhuman acts shall have been 
forgotten or numbered with the things of the past. As 
time advances and the proud names of our countr}^'s 
noble women are recorded, that of Cornelia Chisolm will 
be written in golden letters on the brightest page. 

From this slight digression, the reader is brought back 
to the historical events in the order of their occurrence, 
which enter into the ground-work of this narrative. 

^'' Home Rule'" in Mississippi. 19 

In October, 1858, at a general election, young Chisolm 
was again made the choice of the people of his district, 
who re-elected him Justice of the Peace for a term of tvvo 
years, which time he served with honor and credit to him- 
self and to the entire satisfaction of his constituency. 
At all events, so well were the duties of this office per- 
formed, that in November, i860, he was made Probate 
Judge of the county, a place which he held almost unin- 
terruptedly until the year 1 867, when he resigned in favor 
of John McRea, who was appointed by the then Provis- 
ional Governor of the State. During the long term in 
which he held this important position. Judge Chisolm 
was elected three times, running against Judge Gill, an 
older man, and one said to have been, next to Judge 
Chisolm, the most popular ever elected to an office in the 

In all these years in which he enjoyed the confidence 
of his countrymen to such a high degree, Judge Chisolm 
was a pronounced Union man of Whig proclivities, and 
an uncompromising enemy of the party which precipi- 
tated and hurled head-long upon the country the terrible 
consequences of the rebellion. When the tide of seces- 
sion swept over Mississippi like a devouring flame, he, 
with thousands of others like himself, who shuddered at 
the thought, in an unguarded moment, through force and 
intimidation, cast a vote favoring the disruption of the 
Union, an act which it is known he regretted all the re- 
mainder of his life. As a civil officer and citizen he was 
always opposed to the fratricidal contest, to which he 
steadily refused to lend any personal service, and never 

20 The Chisolm Massacre. 

entered the army save only in the thirty days militia, and 
then under protest. The popular voice of the county, in 
the meantime, was in favor of a vigorous prosecution of 
the war, even unto the " last ditch." 

Against all these odds Judge Chisolm was continued 
in office, from term to term, Whig and Unionist as he 

Young and inexperienced in politics, there must have 
been in him, from the beginning, something which won 
the hearts of his fellows and called around him the 
elements of his unbounded success. At the close of the 
great struggle, he was among the few Southern men who 
early declared themselves in favor of reconstruction and 
the principles of the dominant party of that day, and to 
which he ever after adhered with a steadfastness and zeal 
amounting to patriotic devotion. Such were the leading 
characteristics of Judge Chisolm in youth and early man- 
hood, and which gathered strength as time and age ad- 
vanced, and through life marked the conduct of his 
public and private career. 

Through an acquaintance with the people of Kemper 
county, as they were found in an early day, before the 
spirit engendered by rebellion could have had anything to 
do in moulding Southern character, the reader will be 
enabled more clearly to comprehend the peculiar state of 
morals which is found to have existed among them in 
later years; and which it must be believed is the 
natural outgrowth of a long-neglected and depraved con- 
dition of society. To make this point clear, the two fol- 
lowing chapters are written. That there were then, as 

^' Home Rule'' in Mississippi, 21 

now, many good and true men and women living in this 
wild and unreclaimed region cannot be doubted, and they 
have nothing to* fear from this record. To them every 
meed of praise is given, and should the eyes of any such 
chance to meet these pages, it must be borne in mind 
that only " the wicked flee when no man pursueth." 


For many years before the war and at its close, Kem- 
per county, if not the whole State of Mississippi, might 
well have been included with Kentucky in her historic 
designation of " the dark and bloody ground ;" for its 
population was, to a great extent, made up from a class 
of men who disregarded alike the laws of God and man, 
and " upon whom the multiplied villanies of nature 
swarmed in unwonted profusion." But unlike Kentucky, 
the deeds of barbarity committed within the borders of 
Kenfiper were not chargeable upon the untutored red 
man. None but the pure Anglo-Saxon race, and those 
to the manor born, were in any way responsible for the 
facts which are here recorded. Against this class, the 
efforts of the better citizens were often powerless and 
futile ; and the officers entrusted with the execution of 
the law, either did not have the ability or were wanting 
m the disposition to arrest and punish. 

In the little town of Narkeeta, in the year 1837, there 
was a tavern kept by one Geo. Capers, and a grog shop 
which was presided over by a rare genius named 
Nicholas Caton. The courts of the country at that 
time had very little influence in controlling the actions 
of men, as the judge, the sheriff or the juries were sure 
to have friends on one side or the other of the question 
to be settled ; hence brute force became the only arbiter 
of peace. As a natural consequence of this, little neigh- 

''Home Rule'' in Mississippi. 23 

borhood factions would spring up, hold brief but abso- 
lute sway for a day, or a month, and then as quickly 
give way to the temporary rule of another, which had 
proved itself more valiant in the use of the pistol or 
knife. For many years at Narkeeta there were two par- 
ties of the kind described, which alternated in the brief 
establishment of their authority, sometimes extending all 
over the county. These were led by the Doughtys on 
one side and the McLeans on the other. Horse racing, 
rapine, robbery and murder were of almost weekly if not 
daily occurrence throughout that and other sections. It 
is impossible, at this time to furnish the details of all the 
diabolisms that were then and there witnessed, as they 
would furnish a record of crime containing volumes. 
Only the most aggravated case, the details of which are 
still fresh in the memory of Narkeeta's oldest citizens, is 
here recounted. It will be sufficient to say, that from 
the year 1837 to 1842, there were committed, in the 
neighborhood spoken of, eighteen murders, the most dia- 
bolical of which occurred in the year 1839; in which 
George Capers waylaid and shot Nicholas Caton by the 
roadside. Caton, it appears, was apprised of his danger, 
and fearing death from a concealed enemy, while making 
a short journey through the country on horse-back, took 
up before him on the saddle a little child, eighteen 
months old, believing that its tender years and innocent 
prattle would form a temporary safeguard against the 
assassin's bullet. But in those days, as has been proved 
in more modern times, the presence of childhood had no 
power or influence in staying the hand of violence. 

24 The Chisolni Massacre. 

While passing through a thicket, Caton was shot from 
his horse and fell to the ground dead, still clasping in his 
arms the innocent child. 

In the early spring of i860, Adam Calvert had on his 
place two colored boys, the property of some heirs for 
whom a Mrs. Davis was guardian. The negroes, when 
hired to Calvert, had just recovered from an attack of 
measles. Mrs. Davis stipulated in the contract, before 
letting them go, that they should be subjected to no un- 
necessary exposure to the weather. 

Ferguson, Calvert's overseer, a man of low instincts 
and beastial habits, had these two boys at work hauling 
rails, one day in the early spring, when there came up a 
very heavy and driving rain. Ferguson himself repaired 
to a shelter, leaving the injunction with one of the lads 
that if he should stop his team to take shelter from the 
rain it would be done at the peril of his life. But the 
storm came thicker and faster, and the poor fellow, chilled, 
benumbed and blinded, took refuge, for a few moments, 
under a large tree near by. When the rain had passed, 
Ferguson gave him a terrible beating, and left him with 
the promise that he would renew the punishment on the 
following day. The boy, then suffering from a raging 
fever, fearing that Ferguson would kill him, ran back to 
his mistress, Mrs. Davis, to whom he told the story of 
the cruel treatment he had received. It will be borne in 
mind that the penalty for harboring, or in any way aiding 
a runaway slave, was very severe; and, although Mrs. 
Davis' heart bled for him, she was compelled to send the 
boy back, with a note to Mr. Calvert, asking him not to 

^'Home Ride'' in Mississippi. 25 

inflict too severe punishment, and not any until he should 
recover from his fever. Mr. Calvert, it appears, had gone 
from home that morning, and when the slave reached his 
place he handed the note to Mrs. Calvert. Before sun- 
rise of the next day Ferguson took him out behind a 
stable, stripped and tied him across a log, and, with a 
large rope, having knots tied in the end, whipped him in 
a most shocking and outrageous manner. The victim's 
screams were heard by the neighbors living a mile and a 
half distant in every direction, and then to conclude, the 
brute jumped upon his back and stamped him with his 
coarse heavy boots. On being released, it was found 
that the boy could not walk, and his brother, who was 
compelled to stand by and witness the scene, was ordered 
to carry him to the house, where he lingered in great 
agony until death came to his relief. The brother then 
ran away, but was subsequently caught and the same 
treatment inflicted upon him ; and, with the blood run- 
ning from his wounds, he was lashed to a plow and made 
to follow it all day, without food or water. Ferguson 
was never molested for this in any way. 

Some five or six years before this, there was a man liv- 
ing near Scooba, who hired a negro child belonging to the 
McCaleb estate, and while having it in charge, whipped 
the child to death. The people of the neighborhood 
were indignant at this outrage, and the murderer was 
compelled to pay damages for the property thus des- 

Years passed, and with them the spirit of outlawry 
increased, when men became, of a necessity, the more 

26 The CJiisolin Massacre. 

ready to take the law into their own hands. Such a 
thing as redress through the courts for any personal 
offense was rarely thought of A man named Evret 
Roberts hired another to go to the house of Mr. 
McLawrin, against whom Roberts entertained a belief 
that he had been wronged, for the purpose of whipping 
him. McLawrin shot and killed his assailant. At 
another time, and on a pretext equally as trifling, John 
Edwards killed a man by the name of Eakins. Ed- 
wards' father, and his uncle, Jack Edwards, employed 
Mr. Simms, a lawyer, to go with them to examine some 
witnesses to the murder; but before arriving at the place 
of their destination, jack Edwards — the uncle — shot 
and killed Simms. It appears they had had a difficulty 
before this, but were friendly at the time. 

This terrible tragedy was soon followed by another, 
more appalling. A man named Tyson assaulted Mr. 
Spear with a hoe, while in a field at work. Spear 
was thus slain and his head beaten to a jelly. One of 
the Spears then killed a man by the name of Goins; 
stabbed him with a knife in the town of DeKalb. Sat- 
isfied with nothing short of a bloody vengeance, a 
brother of the murdered Goins, aided by a man named 
Diffey, killed Spear. They shot him from the bushes 
while Spear was at his supper. 

At Blackwater, in Kemper county, George Alexander, 
a brother-in-law of one Phil Gully — whose character 
and name will be more fully discussed hereafter — had 
some words with Ben Caraway. They subsequently 
made friends, shook hands and separated ; and from all 

''Home Rule" in Mississippi. 27 

civilized or savage usages of which we have any account 
one might suppose that further danger of assault by 
either party was at an end. But not so in Kemper. 
Caraway was a blacksmith, and went to work in his 
shop, little thinking of danger, when Alexander walked 
stealthily in, stepped up behind, and, at a single blow 
with a heavy piece of wood, struck him dead. For this 
murder — an unusual occurrence in cases of the kind — 
Alexander was arrested, placed under guard, and that 
night it is said Phil Gully procured his escape. Gully, 
on being asked if it would not have been better had 
Alexander been tried before leaving, replied that he 
thought not; he had taken counsel of Judge Hamm — 
then a practicing lawyer — and Hamm had told him 
that if tried, Alexander would certainly be hanged. 

After the war closed there came from Alabama to 
Kemper county a young man named Jones, who first 
lived with a Mr. Madison, as a common laborer. Jones 
had had a difficulty with his step-father, in which he 
killed the latter in self-defense, and, to evade the ven- 
geance threatened, fled to Mississippi. All this the 
young man very prudently kept to himself, remaining at 
his work, until one day, not many months after his arrival 
at Mr. Madison's he discovered a number of men riding 
up to the place, who inquired for a certain house in the 
neighborhood where they believed Jones to be. A man 
named Hal Dawson — of whom more will be said in 
another chapter — was at the head of this party, among 
whorn the boy recognized the friends of his step-father, 
from Alabama. When these men had ridden away 

28 The Chisolvi Massacre. 

Jones told a neighbor all about the trouble which had 
caused him to leave his home, and, knowing the desper- 
ate character of Dawson, he was advised to go at once 
to the home of his uncle, Mr. Mardis, who lived in the 
same county. In compliance with this suggestion he 
went, and while at his uncle's house, and before revealing 
to him the secret of his troubles, he again saw Hal 
Dawson ride up, in company with one Sloke Gully, a rel- 
ative of Phil, the one alluded to on another page. Jones 
now told his uncle why he had left his home, and at 
once determined to go back, and accordingly started on 
foot for Alabama ; but while on the road he lost his way 
and came out at Sloke Gully's house. Feeling hungry 
and not knowing who lived there, the young man asked 
for something to eat. This was given him, and while 
partaking, who should again appear but Dawson and 
Gully himself. On seeing them, Jones sprang from 
the table and ran down across a field, hotly pursued by 
Gully and Dawson. After he had reached the cover of 
the woods — still pursued — several shots were heard in 
that direction by the people who had been observing. 
In a few minutes Gully and Dawson returned, stating 
that they had been unable to overtake the object of their 
pursuit. A few weeks thereafter some ladies, when out 
walking, discovered the body of the murdered boy in the 
creek which runs near the place from whence the firing 
was heard. 

Meantime Mr. Mardis, supposing his nephew had 
gone back to Alabama, said nothing of the matter, 
until one day some two months afterward, when in 

^^ Home Rule'' in Mississippi. 29- 

DeKalb, he was accosted by John W. Gully, then sheriff,, 
who told Mardis that he had better "go slow," adding 
at the same time, " there is catching before hanging, and 
you can't prove who killed young Jones." 

It was before this that " Etna," a colored woman, was 
taken out by some unknown parties, tied to a tree and 
whipped to death. Her body was found there on the 
following day, in a perfectly nude state. 

About the same time, a colored man named Moses 
McDade was found dead in the road. He had been wan- 
tonly shot by some parties unknown. A Baptist minister 
by the name of Henry White was present at the lynching 
and hanging of a negro for some alleged offense during 
the war, and lent material aid in the performance of the 
murderous act. He afterwards asserted that he was 
ready and more than willing to engage, at any time, in an 
undertaking of the kind when his pastoral duties did not 

In the spring of 1865, James Johnson, a white man, 
was waylaid, when going from his home in the South- 
west Beat, to DeKalb, shot and instantly killed. John- 
son had been a merchant and was highly respected. 


During all these years a family by the name of Gully — 
the same already mentioned — held almost undisputed 
control of the public patronage of Kemper county. 
From the Sheriff's office down to the Beat Magistrate 
and Constable, a Gully or some one of their immediate 
connections wore the official robes, carried the baton of 
authority and the keys of the exchequer. By free use 
of the jug and kindred influences, their election was se- 
cured from term to term, and when installed in office the 
courts and the juries were by them manipulated and 
controlled. So notorious had this become that it was a 
matter of common observation, as it was a fact, that un- 
less a man could establish his relationship to the Gullys, 
or in some other way ingratiate himself into their favor, 
it was useless to look for political honors within the gift 
of the people of the county ; but when this relationship 
was once established, a carte blanche for political promo- 
tion and immunity for any offense, however grave, was 

The first Sheriff of Kemper county defaulted and ran 
away. The second was "Sloke" Gully, the father of 
Phil, Henry, Sam, Jess and John W. The third Sheriff 
was James Hull, a Northern man, who came to Missis- 
sippi, in an early day, and married a Gully. Hull held 
the office for eight years and then vacated it to accept 
that of Circuit Clerk, which he held for sixteen years. 

''Home Rule'' in Mississippi. 3i 

Phil Gully was the next in order, and became Hull's suc- 
cessor to the sheriff's office. " Old Sloke,"— as the father 
was commonly called — politically was a Whig, and some- 
times said that if heaven was to be governed by demo- 
crats he did not care to enter its pearly gates. For- 
tunately, as is believed, politics does not enter into the 
conduct of affairs in that brighter world ; besides it is 
the opinion of those who know the GuUys best, that 
their counsels will never be sought nor obtained there. 
Phil was recreant to the early teachings of his father 
and espoused the more popular cause of democracy, as 
did all of his brothers. During Phil's administration 
the people complained bitterly of the long-continued 
reign of the Gully family. Notwithstanding this, by 
sheer power of numbers and brute force, John W. 
Gully became Phil's successor and held the office for 
eight years, during which time the war came on. The 
Gullys, although valiant in words, overbearing and aggres- 
sive when certain of their ability to surmount opposition, 
were, in fact, non-combatant all through the memorable 
struggle for their "most sacred rights." During that time 
John W., himself exempt from military duty by virtue of 
being sheriff, had fourteen different members of his family 
appointed as deputies, which position also relieved them 
from the hazardous responsibilities of a soldier. So 
chronic was the desire of the Gullys for office, that while 
the State was under Confederate management, Henry 
and Phil became opposing candidates for the Legisla- 
ture, and the contest between them is said to have been 
like that when " Greek meets Greek." Only one of the 

32 The Chisolm Massacre. 

name — Henry — did any service in the army. John W. 
was what is familiarly termed in the South a " butter- 
milk" soldier — a home guard — a hero of thirty days' 
duration. His conduct in the department of his choice 
is said to have been " gallant," as was that of the whole 
command to which he belonged. A recent newspaper 
eulogium, written by Judge Foote of Macon, Mississippi 
— and who was Colonel of the "buttermilk brigade" — 
on the life and character of John W. Gully, assures the 
public that "Captain Gully gave him — the Colonel — 
very little trouble." Doubtless Gully, if living, could 
say as much for Foote. From this it will be seen that 
these two gentlemen must have " fought like brave men^ 
long and well," in defense of their " fires." As it could 
not have been Gully's superior prowess as a soldier that 
gave him character and influence, the theory already 
advanced is the more easily understood ; that, by close 
and intimate connection with the worst element of socie- 
ty, strengthened by the great numbers of his own family 
connection, he became the acknowledged leader of his 
clan ; for certainly the " many virtues " usually claimed 
for men seeking the patronage of an indulgent public, 
were never found in this man, who for so many years 
controlled the political destinies of the county. He was 
coarse, vulgar and illiterate; ambitious, arrogant and 
overbearing, as will be seen ; with a moral status which 
cannot be said to have been above reproach. The 
soubriquet familiarly applied to him, is in itself a very 
fair index to his character. Wherever known he bore the 
more appropriate than chaste appellation of the " Bull 
of the Woods." 

^^ Home Rule'' in Mississippi. y^ 

So long had the Gully family and their adherents 
managed all public enterprises in the county where a 
pecuniary reward was made the chief incentive to action 
that, as might be supposed, they could but illy brook 
opposition, and terrible indeed must have been the 
jealousy and hatred which this clan bore toward the 
men who first had the hardihood and daring to "beard 
the lion in his den," and who were finally successful in 
loosing his strong grip. But year after year passed 
by, while the iron heel of the Gully rule became more 
and more irksome. It is told of Hull, while sheriff, that 
he would enter a man's house ostensibly for the purpose 
of serving some legal process, and then demand, by 
authority of his high office, any sum of money, no mat- 
ter how exorbitant and unjust. These sums were 
frequently paid over to him, and one of the victims of 
this peculiar style of robbery is living in Kemper to-day, 
and who has kindly lent the weight of his experience in 
the establishment of these facts. Charges of corruption 
in office and crime out of it were almost continually 
being brought against one or another of this clan of 
public plunderers. As sheriff, the most unreasonable 
and unjust accounts were presented by Gully to a board 
of supervisors, generally under his control, many of 
which were by them allowed, and the money for the 
whole account finally wrenched from the poor taxpayer. 
Accounts of this kind, for extra services rendered and 
special deputies employed, have first to be approved by 
the presiding judge of the court and district attorney. 
When these gentlemen could not be conveniently 


34 TJie Chisohn Massacre, 

reached, Gully, it appears, was in the habit of affixing 
their names to the bills himself. 

Some years after, when John E. Chisolm — a brother 
of Judge Chisolm — became sheriff by appointment of 
the governor, a warrant thus fraudulently obtained, 
amounting to two hundred and forty dollars — more or 
less — was taken by Judge Chisolm, then performing the 
duties of the office of sheriff for his brother, for taxes 
due the county. But now that a man of a political 
faith which they did not endorse had the handling of the 
public funds, claims of every description presented 
against the county underwent the most rigid examina- 
tion by a democratic board of supervisors, and this 
warrant, offered by Judge Chisolm, was rejected by 
reason of the exorbitancy of the account on which it 
was based, and other gross irregularities. One reason 
assigned for this was, it had been taken by Judge Chisolm 
at a discount, and that he now sought to turn it over, in 
settlement for taxes, at its face. The judge called up 
the man of whom he took the paper — Mr. John A. 
Minniece, who swore that he had been allowed its full 
value. Upon further investigation it was found that the 
original account itself was a forgery, as it had never been 
approved by the presiding judge or district attorney. 
At least the prosecuting officer, Mr. Thomas H. Wood, 
declared at the time that the signing of his name to the 
document was a forgery, and so it was rejected by 
the board. Judge Chisolm's only recourse then was to 
sue Gully for the amount, which he did, obtaining a 
judgment against him accordingly. Gully appealed 

''^ Ho7ne Rule'' in Mississippi. 35 

and, for some error in the declaration, the supreme court 
remanded the case, where it remained unsettled until 
Gully's death. 

With George Welch — the present deputy sheriff — as 
clerk of the court, and, by virtue of that office, clerk of 
the board of supervisors, some $1,900 in warrants thus 
fraudulently obtained were found, which the taxpayers 
were compelled to cash, and for which no satisfactory 
explanation has yet been made. 

It is said that while sheriff of Kemper county after 
the war, John W. Gully turned over to the treasurer 
between two and three thousand dollars of old Confed- 
erate warrants, issued by the board of police — or super- 
visors — during the progress of the rebellion, and with 
them paid the county tax of 1866. One of the items 
was a warrant for $500, issued to him for collecting a 
military tax. This, with the balance, had been paid in 
Confederate money. These warrants were received by 
the treasurer on Gully's making oath that he had paid 
their face value. By this the crime of perjury was 
added to that of unlawfully taking the people's money. 
By the aid of his ring of Confederates he bought up 
warrants at twenty-five to forty cents on the dollar, and 
turned them over to the treasurer dollar for dollar, under 
oath that he had taken them for taxes, without dis- 
count. For three years following that of 1856 this man 
collected a sum of money due from the county to the 
Mobile & Ohio Railroad Company, amounting to $3,000, 
and which, up to the year 1870, at least, had not been 
given to that corporation; while the receipts for the 

36 The CJiisolni Massacre. 

money paid to Gully can be seen to-day. During this 
great and good administration of the people's affairs, 
many disgraceful acts and foul crimes not connected 
with his office were charged against him. The nature 
of these are such as to preclude the possibility of their 
publication in a work of this kind, and it is with pleasure 
that a further recital of this peculiar phase of Kemper 
county society is omitted. 

In the spring of 1868 this man Gully, who had been 
ungovernable and rebellious toward the authorities 
placed over the State by the General Government, was 
removed from the office of sheriff, and A. H. Hopper, an 
ex-Confederate soldier and a native of Alabama, was 
appointed in his place. Benjamin F. Rush, who was 
also a Southern man of high personal character, and 
who had been a soldier of marked gallantry, was made 
Hopper's chief deputy. 

On the accession of Hopper, county warrants were a 
drug in the market at twenty-five cents on the dollar, and 
bankruptcy and ruin stared the people in the face. 

Before this, however. Rush had been associated with 
Gully and another gentleman in the mercantile business, 
during which time they quarreled, and Gully openly 
accused Rush of foul dealing, while Rush preferred 
counter charges against Gully. A personal difficulty, 
which appears to have been the only means of settling 
disputes of the kind, was the result, when Rush attacked 
Gully with a pistol, driving him within the cover of his 
house. From the date of this collision* the war of crim- 
ination and re-crimination ceased between them, and they 

''Home Rule'' in Mississippi. 37 

met again on terms of comparative friendship. It was 
not until Rush became the recipient of the emoluments 
of the sheriff's office, which had so long been an undis- 
puted heritage of the Gullys, that a second rupture 
occurred between them. 

From the date of the appointment of Hopper, Gull/s 
persecution of Rush knew no rest, and, already leaning 
toward republicanism, the latter was soon driven into the 
ranks of that poor and despised party ; while Chisolm, 
McRea, Hopper and one or two others, formed a nucleus 
around which a strong and effective organization sprung 


" This marked the beginning of a war of political perse- 
cution and proscription — somewhat local in its character, 
it is true — as cruel and unjust as the religious oppression 
of the Huguenots under the reign of Philip the Second 
of Spain, or that of Pedro Melendez in the early history 
of our country. What added fresh fuel to the flame of 
disappointed ambition, the colored man stepped forward 
with that most potent of all weapons in a political con- 
test the ballot — and rallied around the men who had 

been first to espouse the principles guaranteeing to them 
equal and exact rights under the law. Thus shorn of 
their power, the Gullys — most of them illiterate as the 
negroes themselves — first grew restive and then desperate 
as the vision of their former greatness began to fade. 
Like many others, they feigned the belief that the negro 
was soon to be made the equal, socially, morally and 
politically, of the proud Caucassian race, his "natural 
master." For it is a fact, and upon reflection the prin- 

38 The CJiisolni Massacre. 

ciple is readily understood, that the greater the ignor- 
ance and the lower the moral status of a white man 
reared in the South, the more bitter is his prejudice 
against the late slave, and the greater his fear that the 
despised race will eventually become the white man's 
equal in the common scale of humanity. 

Up to this date, through all the years of Judge Chis- 
olm's public career, he had been so well liked by the 
Gullys that at all times he received their earnest and 
hearty support ; for without it he could not have been 
continued so long in one of the most honored offices 
within the gift of the people of the county, in which the 
political power and numerical strength of the Gullys was 
so great, and this fact is conceded by Gully's friends 
to-day. Aside from his individual merits, Judge Chisolm 
had growing up around him, at this time, an interesting 
and cultivated family. The early training of his accom- 
plished wife, had peculiarly fitted her for that compan- 
ionship so much needed by a man surrounded with the 
exciting and often demoralizing influences incident to and 
inseparable from public life ; while, to her children, she 
was at once a true mother, a faithful tutor and an engag- 
ing companion, as well as a blessing to the society which 
she adorned. 

Thus is outlined at the beginning the characters of the 
individuals whose life-record furnish much of the material 
upon which this truly remarkable narrative of facts is 
founded. Their relations to each other and the commu- 
nity in which they lived for so many years before the 
direful consequences of the civil war came upon the 

'^ Home Rule'' in Mississippi, 39 

country, have been presented. The social and moral 
standing of each is truthfully given, and it will not re- 
quire the closest attention in the progress of this work, 
to enable the reader to mark the causes of complaint as 
subsequently charged upon one by the other, and to 
discriminate between the false and the true. If a just 
discrimination should thus be arrived at, after reading, 
then the great object for which these pages are written 
will have been well-nigh accomplished ; for to refute false 
charges made against the dead — and the living who are 
equally powerless for defense — charges given strength 
and currency through the agency of a partisan press, as 
incapable of truth in the discussion of any topic where 
political questions are in any way involved, as it is weak 
and imbecile upon all others, has been one of the chief 
inspirations of this undertaking. 

The 14th of September, 1869, John E. Chisolm, the 
same spoken of on a preceding page, who lived near 
the old family homestead in a remote part of the 
county, was appointed by Governor Ames to succeed 
Hopper as sheriff; while Judge Chisolm — then ineligible 
on account of having served in a civil capacity under the 
Confederate government — was made his brother's 
deputy, and assumed the whole responsibihty of the 

Before the administration of John E. Chisolm, under 
the supervision of a democratic board of supervisors, a 
tax was levied upon the county which was known as 
the " acre tax," and against which there appeared, at the 
time of the levy, no especial objection; but when Judge 

40 TJie CJiisolm Massacre. 

Chisolm undertook to collect the tax there went up a 
terrible cry against the law which was characterized as 
a great "radical steal." No better explanation of this 
matter can be given than that found in the sworn testi- 
mony of Judge Chisolm before the Congressional Inves- 
tigating Committee at Washington, February 14th, 1877, 
page 757, and but a few weeks before his cruel 

In answer to a question by Mr. Teller, Judge Chisolm 
said^: "There was a tax levied in 1869 by a democratic 
board of supervisors of the county for county purposes, 
levied upon land — upon the acres of land. One cent 
given in upon land at such a price, two cents upon land 
given in at another price, and three cents upon land given 
in at the highest price." 

Question. — "Per acre?" Answer. — "Yes; the tax books 
were turned over to me, or rather to my brother (I was 
doing the collecting and was running the office; it was 
before my disabilities were removed), and a number of 
gentlemen asked me what I thought about the levy. I 
told them that it was not my business to decide any 
legal question; it was simply a matter to enjoin the 
sheriff about, or else to pay the tax ; that the board of 
supervisors left no discretion with me. I had to collect 
the tax or be enjoined. A majority of the land owners 
of the county enjoined the sheriff from collecting the 
tax. Some paid the tax rather than enjoin. That tax 
was paid over to the county treasurer, and I got his 
receipt for it. I never heard any one make complaint 
about it except Esquire Mills, who was a kind of crazy 

'■''Home Rule'' in Mississippi. 41 

man down there. He paid the tax, and then commenced 
a lawsuit against me for not paying it back to him. It 
was my duty, under the law, to pay it to the county 

Question. — "Did you pay it to the county treasurer?" 
Answer. — "I did; I paid it to the county treasurer. Mr. 
Mills commenced suit against the treasurer, and the cir- 
cuit and superior courts both decided that I had done 
right in the premises." 

And thus vanished in smoke the first specific charge 
of dishonesty ever preferred against Judge Chisolm by 
his malicious and vindictive enemies, seeking only to des- 
troy the power and influence of the man who, of all 
others, now stood most in their way. Meantime the 
slanderous tongue of hatred spared neither age or sex, 
and the sanctity of republican homes was invaded when 
all other efforts failed to catch the quick ear of an ignor- 
ant rabble, whose passions and prejudices might thus be 
further excited against the men whose ruin had already 
become the chief goal of democratic ambition in the 
county. Gully once more took up the cudgel against 
Rush, pursued him with a keen scent, and all the venom 
of his nature. Unable to bear his taunts and insults 
longer, Rush, sometime in August, 1870, sent Gully word 
that he would attack him on sight. Gully armed him- 
self with a gun, and in company with his brother, Sam, 
and a Dr. Smith, started down the street, in DeKalb, 
toward his home, on horseback. Rush saw the three 
men coming and approached them, with a gun in his 
hands, from an open square, in plain sight. Gully reined 

42 l^Jic CJiisohn Massacre. 

his horse across the street, bringing his orother and 
Smith between himself and Rush. Rush called out to 
him to stop — that he wanted to settle their difficulties 
then and there. At this, Sam Gully shot Rush with a 
pistol which he had previously drawn, and at the same 
moment seized Rush's gun, which went off in the 
struggle that followed. Upon this Smith fled for his 
life, and John Gully jumped from his horse, ran behind 
the nearest building and then turned and fired twice upon 
Rush, one shot taking effect, bringing him to the ground. 
At this'time it was discovered that Sam Gully had been 
shot in the right leg, which, while sitting on his horse 
in the position he occupied when struggling with Rush, 
was on the side next to his brother John. Sam Gully 
died, from the effects of his injuries, that night. The 
evidence elicited before the grand jury was to the effect 
that a shot from Rush's gun, at the time, could not have 
inflicted the wound that caused Gully's death. Not- 
withstanding this fact, an indictment was found; but it 
is believed, to this day, by all who have gone into an 
impartial investigation of the subject, that John Gully, 
in shooting at Rush, accidently shot and killed his own 
brother. Rush was carried home, and lingered for days 
and weeks at the point of death. His trial was after- 
ward had in the circuit court for the killing of Sam Gully, 
and he was acquitted. John W. Gully stood trial for 
the shooting of Rush, and was also acquitted. After the 
trial of these men, the decision of the public seemed 
to be that honors were now easy, and in all probability, 
there would be no more personal collisions between them. 

^^ Home Rule'' in Mississippi. 43 

But in this they were mistaken, for Gully proved to be 
as vindictive and untiring in the pursuit of an enemy, as 
he was arrogant and ambitious of political power and 
distinction, and Rush had no sooner recovered from the 
effects of his wouads, and entered upon his accustomed 
avocation, than Gully renewed his attack, but this time 
in an entirely new and unlooked-for manner. Rush had 
always been open, bold, and when driven to the wall, 
aggressive. All through the war, while Gully was 
screening himself and his relations from the rigors and 
hazards of the tented field. Rush stood without a peer 
in everything that went to make up the gallant soldier. 
His public and private record was without a blemish, 
and no one believed that he could have had an enemy 
so cowardly and mendacious as to undertake to assassin- 
ate him in cold blood ; and certain it is that no one but a 
Gully has ever been accused of that crime. 

In the month of March, following this disastrous 
collision, in August an attempt was made to assassinate 
Rush, which came very near proving a success. He was 
shot from behind a church — a singularly chosen place to 
screen an assassin — which stands just across the street, 
opposite his house, while going into his gate, after dark. 
The best idea, perhaps, of how this attempt to murder 
was brought about, and by whom, can be gleaned from 
the testimony of Judge Chisolm, as taken before the 
Joint Select Committee of Congress of 1871, appointed 
to inquire into the condition of affairs in the late 
insurrectionary States. 

On page 247 of the official report will be found the 

44 The Chisolm Massacre. 

following: In answer to a question by Mr. Poland, 
the chairman, Judge Chisolm said : 

" I was the first man who got to Rush's after he was 
shot ; was at the court house when I heard the shots. 
We were trying to secure a person at the time Captain 
Rush left the court house. I had seen a great deal of 
maneuvering going on among men whom I regarded as 
very bad men in the community. Just at dark I told 
Captain Rush that I thought he had better look out, 
that I thought there was going to be another raid in the 
county, that I saw some maneuvering going on that I 
did not like. I told him that I thought we had better 
do all we could to the jail and get back home before 
dark. There was a man by the name of Hunger in jail 
for housebreaking. He came near escaping two or three 
times. He seemed to be a very powerful man. Captain 
Rush said to me just as he left, ^ Judge, you stay here 
until the workman has done all he can do to the jail, and 
I will go home, for I do not feel well.' His house was 
perhaps seventy-five yards from the jail. Rush was my 
deputy, and had charge of the jail." 

Question. — "You said you had discovered some suspi- 
cious movements, then, that day?" Answer. — "Yes, sir; 
and I had informed Rush and three others there, that 
evening, that there was something wrong going on ; that 
the men who had concocted bloody schemes before were 
concocting them again, and I requested three different 
men to have their guns ready for a night's fight if it was 
found necessary to make it. These movements con- 
sisted mainly of seeing a number of men collected 

^^ Home Rule'' in Mississippi. 45. 

in the back of GuUy's store — a gentlemen there whom I 
think every man in the county, irrespective of party, 
regards as one who does not care anything about having 
the law executed. There were several men there from 
out in the country; two of them brothers of this man 
Gully, and several other suspicious characters. There 
was one other man in town whom I did not know 
at all." 

Question. — "Why did you suspect these men of hos- 
tility toward Rush?" Ansiver. — "I suspected them of 
hostihty toward any man who was opposed to lawless- 
ness, and rioting, and doing things illegal and wrong in 
the county; more especially to Rush, because he and 
they were not friendly, as these parties are not friendly 
to any man who does not agree with them in politics. 
Captain Rush was a republican and the others were 
democrats. Rush was very badly wounded. The mid- 
dle finger of his right hand was shot off, and he was 
shot through the groin and through the abdomen ; but 
the bullets did not go to the hollow. Four shots struck 
him ; but his pocketbook and knife turned them, and I 
think saved his life. His right hand was in his pocket 
when he was shot. He was shot twice with a double- 
barrel gun. He was about ten steps from his gate 
when the first shot was fired at him. He then made a 
spring for his gate, when they fired at him again. It 
was the first shot that hurt him worst. When they 
fired at him the second time some of the shots went 
into the house, and came very near killing his wife." 


Years have passed since the government emerged from 
a life struggle scarcely equalled in the history of nations. 
Old land marks are lost sight of, the statute books of 
the country changed, and the constitution of the fathers 
has been remodeled and placed upon a higher plane of 
justice and humanity. But civil convulsions or the visi- 
tations of Providence, no matter how sudden and terrify- 
ing, do not always appeal to the reason or conscience. 
The wicked hearts of men are slow to chansfe, and in 
Mississippi, in 1866, are found the same discordant and 
turbulent elements which existed there in 1836. 

The caldron of political rancor had now been raised to 
a boiling heat throughout Mississippi, and the hand of 
persecution and the ban of social ostracism fell heavily 
upon every one who dared to express an opinion that 
was not first entertained by the leaders of the old seces- 
sion party. Ku-Klux organizations existed in a majority 
of the counties, while those not so fortunate as to 
possess a safe-guard of the kind, had only to despatch 
couriers to adjoining counties, or even States, when an 
emergency seemed to demand it, and before the sun rose 
on the day following the despatch fifty or a hundred 
mounted and masked men would appear ready for the 
execution of any crime, no matter how cowardly and 
dark. The system of free schools, which had been 
established in the State, seemed to be one of the 

^^ Home Rule''' in Mississippi. 47 

strongest incentives to the development of the Ku-Klux 
spirit, and the whipping of teachers, the killing of negroes 
and burning of school houses, proved an occupation in 
which they took special delight. It is hardly necessar)' 
here to undertake to impress upon the reader the magni- 
tude of this great evil, which extended all over the 
southern States. Its history is well known, and the sub- 
ject is alluded to only as a link in the continued chain 
of events. The estimate placed upon the education of 
the youth of the State in ante-bellum times, and the 
care taken of the funds donated by the General Govern- 
ment for that purpose, will throw a light upon this 
subject not generally understood. It will account in 
some degree, perhaps, for that hostility claimed to have 
existed against the inauguration of the free school sys- 
tem in the State; and it will strengthen the evidence 
already adduced, tending to show the outlawed condition 
of society wherever republican institutions were sought 
to be introduced and maintained. By the twelfth sec- 
tion of the Act- of Congress of March 3, 1803, regulating 
the grant and disposal of lands south of the Tennessee, 
the section number sixteen in each township, " is reserved 
for the support of public schools in the same." Missis- 
sippi received a large proportion of this grant. The 
report of Hon. H. R. Pease, State Superintendent of 
PubHc Education for the year 1870, which is in part 
reproduced, will show the condition in which this fund 
was found at the close of the war. Here are the reports 
of the various superintendents of the counties : 

In Claiborne county : " The work of ascertaining the 


48 TJlc Chisolni Massacre, 

exact condition of the school lands was very much 
retarded on account of the loose manner in which the 
business has heretofore been done. With regard to the 
claims due the school fund, the amounts ' regarded as 
worthless,' are worthless indeed. Some are against per- 
sons that are dead, and have left no estate, or one cov- 
ered up by judgments; some are against persons who 
have bankrupted against them, and a few are barred by 
limitation. I think much of the above funds could have 
been saved if the President of the Board of Police had 
taken steps to secure it, as required by an Act of the 
Legislature, approved December 2, 1865, and entitled 
'An Act the better to secure the payment of the School 
Funds of the State.' See Acts of 1865, Chapter 20. 
Of the amounts ^ regarded as good,' there may and prob- 
ably will be some considerable loss when the solvency of 
the debtors is tested in court." 

In Clarke county : " Sometime has been spent in inves- 
tigating the condition of the Sixteenth Section Fund 
and all school moneys. The old records of this county 
have been so badly kept, that no satisfactory results have 
been obtained." 

In Tallahatchie county : " Prominent amongst the 
difficulties we have been called upon to encounter, is the 
fierce opposition of the white people to paying taxes for 
the establishment and support of colored schools, for 
' ruining and demoralizing the negro.' This prejudice, 
bitter and uncompromising, has deterred many appli- 
cants for certificates from accepting colored schools. 
The party recently appointed to the office of treasurer 

^^ Home Rule'' in Mississippi. 49 

of the county is known as an open and uncompromising 
enemy of .public schools, and he has informed applicants 
for certificates that they would not be paid, as there was 
no money in the treasury, and that the tax levied for 
'Teachers' Fund' would be paid in depreciated county 

In Yazoo county: "At this date, February 9, 1871, 
there are in operation, under the free system, forty-one 
schools in this county. We find it impossible to get at 
a correct estimate of the 'Common School Fund.' The 
ante-bellum claims are in such a fix that but Httle will 
be realized from them. Bankruptcy, death and emigra- 
tion has destroyed all hopes of getting the most of 
them. Many of the papers are either destroyed or mis- 
laid. Some thirty-six thousand dollars of this fund was 
invested in the Mississippi Central Railroad stock, some 
twelve or fifteen years ago. The 'Sixteenth Section 
Fund' is in a very bad condition, so much so that nothing 
approaching accuracy can be stated." 

In Kemper county: "When organized, my Board of 
School Directors went to work looking after the notes, 
books and papers due the several townships, for the pro- 
ceeds of sale of Sixteenth Section lands, which were 
turned over to Esquire A. G. Ellis for collection. I can- 
not give you a definite answer as to the condition 
of these claims ; but am of opinion that about half of 
them may be considered good. * * * We have 
several school houses free of rent, and with the excep- 
tion of two sub-districts, the people have built their own 
school houses, and all seem satisfied; except, however, 


50 The Chisohn Massacre. 

the disappointed party — the revolutionists or seces- 
sionists. They are not satisfied, and would not be at 
anything, be it to their interest ever so much. We have 
now between forty and fifty schools, with good teachers, 
organized and in a flourishing condition. I adopted in 
the outset the prerequisite ^that no teacher should be 
employed unless indorsed by the parents and guardians 
of the neighborhood in which he or she proposed to 

In Franklin county: "I have made every effort to 
obtain from the old school officers the notes ivJiicJi were 
in their possession, showing the disposition which has 
been made by them of these funds, and the indebtedness 
of parties to whom the funds have been loaned. Many 
of these notes I find to be against persons who are now 
insolvent, and many are barred by limitation." 

In Jackson county : " Most of the records were 
destroyed by fire during the year 1862, and lately the 
minute book of the board of police has been spirited 
away by some unknown party." 

In Neshoba county : " I have heretofore informed the 
State Board of Education that the school lands of 
the county, known as the Sixteenth Section Lands, were 
nearly all disposed of by lease or otherwise many years 
ago, and that the proceeds arising from the leasing of 
the same have been so managed, both during and since 
the war, that they are at this time almost entirely worth- 
less. The aggregate amount of school funds on out- 
standing claims is $18,738.73; one-half of the above 
amount secured by very doubtful paper, and in a manner 

^' Home Rule'' in Mississippi. 51 

In Prentiss county : " We labor under another disad- 
vantage, which perhaps is not general. The ignorance 
among the people in the rural districts here is absolutely 
astounding. Indeed in some localities they seem to 
need missionaries to teach them civilization more than 
school teachers." 

To conclude, Superintendent Pease himself subjoins 
the following : 

" Over thirty buildings, used for school purposes, have 
been destroyed by mobs or burned by incendiaries in the 
past year. The following extract from an official report 
received at this office, will exhibit the character of hos- 
tility manifested in certain localities of the State : "^ * 
' Duty once more prompts me to inform you what has 
transpired in relation to the public schools of the county 
since my last communication upon this subject. There 
have been four school houses burned since my last report, 
two of which were used for white pupils and the other 
two for the colored children. We do not know whether 
these outrages were committed by private parties or by 
the Ku-Klux. The town of Louisville was visited, a few 
nights ago, by some thirty-six or seven disguised horse- 
men. They went to the residence of Mr. Fox, an honor- 
able and well known gentleman, who was engaged in 
teaching a public school, and forbade him further comply- 
ing with the contract made with the Board of Directors. 
They then went in search of one Peter Cooper, a colored 
man, employed in teaching a colored school, and failing 
to find his person, they sought revenge in destroying his 
property. They burned his trunk, together with the 

52 TJie Chisolm Massacre. 

most of his clothing, also destroyed or carried off twenty- 
six dollars in money. They then called on two others, 
using the lash pretty freely, then departed to parts to us 
unknown. They have notified a good many of the 
teachers to stop teaching public free schools in the 
county, some of whom have obeyed their command. 
There have been, by burning and otherwise, eleven public 
schools stopped in the county. They seem determined 
to break up all the schools in the county.' Many 
instances of a similar character, in the eastern counties, 
have been reported. I will state to your honorable body, 
in reply to your resolution requiring the location of the 
school buildings destroyed, that I am unable to report 
the exact location, as the reports from which my state- 
ment is taken simply give the numbers, without giving 
the exact location. I have taken steps to secure this 
information, and will, if required by competent authority, 
furnish the same, accompanied .by affidavits setting forth 
the facts. 

" From the reports received up to date, I am able to 
present the following results. I will add, in this con- 
nection, that these figures exhibit the result of a prelim- 
inary investigation only : 
Amount of loss in loans for want of proper 

security, $6i,66o oo 

Amount of loss in rents of school lands, . 58,960 cx> 
Number of acres of school lands occupied for 

which no rent has been paid, .... 16,018 00 
Total amount of loss of school lands on 
account of neglect and want of proper 
management on the part of former school 
officers, 402,729 00 

''Home RuW in Mississippi. 53 

"I am of the opinion that when full and complete 
returns are made of the amount of los^ of the sixteenth 
section school funds alone, to say nothing of the semi- 
nary fund, and the Chickasaw fund, will exceed ONE 
MILLION OF DOLLARS absolutely squandered and irre- 
trievably lost." 

In Kemper county the spirit of blood-thirsty intoler- 
ance toward the negro and his " white allies," as all white 
republicans were called, became so great, and murders 
and whippings by the Ku-Klux so alarmingly frequent, 
that troops were finally called in and a military camp 
was established at Lauderdale Springs, the most accessi- 
ble point on the Mobile and Ohio Railroad. Among 
the nightly raiders upon the unoffending blacks of Kem- 
per county there came up at this period a special genius 
named Ball. He was arrested by the military and 
carried to Lauderdale, charged with murder. He subse- 
quently made his escape and fled, as is believed to 
Texas. So aggravating was this case that a large 
reward was offered for Ball's apprehension. But a few 
months passed before he secretly returned : yet strange 
to tell, did not ally himself with his old associates in 
blood. This strange conduct aroused a suspicion in the 
minds of his former confederates that he was about to 
turn State's evidence and expose all their iniquities. At 
any rate, one dark night his house was surrounded by 
some unknown parties and several shots fired into it, 
in precisely the same manner in which Ball himself, with 
his masked brethren, had so often fired into the cabins 
of defenseless negroes. His guilty and cowardly heart 

54 ^^^^ Chisohn Massacre, 

doubtless revealed to him the terrible truth that, who- 
ever his assailants might be, their purpose was to avenge 
the blood for which his own hands were accountable, 
and under cover of the thick darkness he sought to 
escape by flight; but was finally shot down, receiving 
wounds from which he died in a few days. This oc- 
curred near the house of Phil Gully; though whatever 
else may be said of him, it was not then believed Gully 
would willingly imbue his hands in blood. But at that 
time, as to-day, it was asserted by Judge Chisolm's 
friends that he planned Ball's murder and was fully cog- 
nizant of every other murder committed by the Klan; 
that he furnished the brains for maturing their plans and 
carrying them into successful execution, under the per- 
sonal supervision of John W. Gully, his brother. At 
the instance of Phil Gully two negroes were arrested, 
charged with the killing of Ball. There being no jail or 
other suitable place for the confinement of prisoners, one 
of them escaped, while the other stood a trial and was 
honorably acquitted. 

Ball's depredations, however, were not always done 
under the cover of night or the black mask; nor 
were they yet confined to the colored race. Some 
time before Ball's death Judge Chisolm had been depu- 
tized to collect some taxes in the southwestern por- 
tion of the county, and when returning, with a large 
amount of money on his person, he encountered Ball in 
a dense swamp at the crossing of a creek. This was 
near Phil Gully's house. Ball placed himself in the road 
with a double-barrel gun, and demanded of Judge 

'^ Home Rule'' in Mississippi. 55 

Chisolm if he intended to arrest him or expose his 
whereabouts to the mihtary authorities. 

The Judge repHed that he was not himself an officer, 
and had no authority to arrest any one. Peering into 
the thicket near by, Chisolm then discovered that Ball ■ 
was not alone; for there, crouched in the brush, with 
guns in their hands, he saw a half dozen other men. 
The Judge was in a defenseless condition, having no 
arms on his person but a small pistol. While talking 
with Ball and assuring him that he would not inform on 
nor undertake to arrest him, Judge Chisolm rode away 
and escaped without injury. 

The night of the 26th of May, 1871, a body of dis- 
guised men visited the plantation of ex-Governor R. C. 
Powers, for the purpose of killing a colored man who 
lived there at the time. The superintendent on the 
place — a white man — refused them admission to the 
room where the object of their search was sleeping. 
Upon this they opened fire upon the cabin with their guns, 
two balls passing through the door in which the young 
man stood when disputing their entrance. This was 
followed by a personal assault upon the door, which was 
soon beaten down; but, during that time, one of the assail- 
ants fell dead from a shot delivered by the superintend- 
ent, who, with the negro, then fled for his life. They were 
followed by several shots which did no harm, when the 
would-be murderers, taking up the dead body of their fallen 
comrade, hurried away, but in their haste and consterna- 
tion, left behind them two Ku-Klux masks, which had 
accidentally fallen off. George Evans, the young man # 


56 The Chisohn Massacre. 

killed, had been raised in the county, and was well known 
by everybody. Two of his brothers were arrested by the 
military previous to this, charged with killing a freedman. 
Evans" body was buried secretly, on his father's place, 
early the next morning, and the- report was circulated 
that he had died suddenly of cholera morbus. His 
father said that his death was caused from eating too 
many oysters and sardines the night before. The kind 
of which he partook was unhealthy, no doubt. 

The immediate occasion of this visit of the Klan to 
the plantation of ex-Governor Powers, was as follows : 
Matt Duncan, the colored man whom they sought to 
kill that night, some two years before had reported to the 
military, at camp Lauderdale, the murder of a little 
brother of his by the same crowd of men. This boy — 
Matt's brother — was taken from his cabin, drawn and 
quartered and his mangled body thrown into the Talla- 
dega swamp. Matt's offense was that of reporting this 
" little act of pleasantry " to the authorities. He was a 
hard-working and industrious negro, and seldom quit the 
place for any purpose. 

This is the sworn testimony of ex-Governor Powers, 
as taken before the investigating committee of Congress 
in 1 871. The ex-Governor lives in Mississippi to-day, 
and his testimony will hardly be impeached. 

During all these years of outlawry, unequaled in the 
history of barbarous tribes anywhere on the earth, 
according to the sworn testiniony of Judge Chisolm, the 
headquarters of the Klan for Kemper county, were at the 
grocery store of John W. Gully, at DeKalb. Here the 

''Home Rule'' in Mississippi. 57 

whisky was doled out which inspired their hearts to 
deeds of chivalry in masks. Here the GuUys and Dr. 
Fox, (says the evidence quoted,) when in solemn con- 
clave, designated the men upon whom the visitations of 
their savage lust should fall, and the various detachments 
of the Klan throughout the county were there assigned 
their particular and especial duty. James Watts and 
A. G. Ellis, two sycophantic and hypocritical lawyers, 
were their legal advisers, when, at the same time, they 
were under pay of Judge Chisolm and his friends, for the 
transaction of legitimate business. 

Thomas W. Adams, a white man, having been a clerk 
in the republican constitutional convention, which met in 
Jackson in the winter of 1868, had thus incurred the 
wrath of Fox and the GuUys, and accordingly \yas 
carried from his house at night and whipped. While 
undergoing the tortures of the lash, Adams was told by 
the Klan that their object was to teach him to take the 
whip like a " nigger," as he had been associated with the 
" niggers " in the " radical " convention. Adams knew 
and recognized many of the men engaged in this affair, 
gave their names to the military, and they fled the 

Henry Greer, a negro, was dragged from his bed at 
night and severely beaten. 

Near Tamola, in Kemper county, three negroes were 
taken out, the first one killed and his house burned 
down ; the other two were carried to the woods near by 
and there murdered. One of the victims was a woman 

Near the same place a colored school house was 

58 The Ckisolm Massacre. 

burned Immediately after the opening of free schools in 
the State. 

At McLendon's another school house was burned, 
rebuilt and burned again. 

In August, 1873, a colored school house, on the place 
of the widow Chisolm (Judge Chisolm's mother), was 
burned at night. 

The same night Charles Robinson, a young man and 
teacher of a free white school, was staked to the ground 
by disguised men and threatened with death. His life 
was spared on condition that he would leave the county. 
It is needless to add, perhaps, that he left. 

Also a negro named Peden was known to have been 
killed by the Ku Klux. 

In the month of July, 1865, Thomas Burton waylaid 
and shot on the road, near Narkeeta, a colored woman 
and boy. Burton's apology for this crime was that they 
had been stealing watermelons. Not having been in 
any way interfered with for this dual murder. Burton 
soon after committed another, if possible more heinous 
and diabolical. He went to the cabin of an old negro 
living in the woods, fully two miles from any other 
inhabitant, and there shot and killed him, and then 
undertook to burn the cabin, to cover up the evidences 
of his guilt. 

Miles Hampton, a colored man, living on the place of 
Mrs. Thomas Hampton, was shot in the night time, by 
Ku-Klux, and killed. 

Below is a letter, written by Mrs. Chisolm to a friend, 
which affords a very clear and striking picture of the 

''Home Rule'' in Mississippi. 59 

treatment herself and household received in those days 
at the hands of these chivalrous gentlemen. From its 
perusal alone the women of the country will learn some- 
thing of the sacrifices which southern ladies are called 
upon to make whose husbands have sought to uphold 
their manhood in the free exercise of_ their opinions. 
The letter bears date DeKalb, June, 1874. 

''The disturbing elements were for a long time busy 
with their intermeddling tongues, supposing Chisolm 
* rode the elephant,' as the saying went ; and finally it 
began to be whispered that the life of no man was safe 
who did. On going to his office one morning he found in 
his room, just under the door, an engraved card, I pre- 
sume about three inches long and two wide. On this 
was printed a black coffin, and just below a skull and 
cross-bones; on the back were the letters ' K. K. K.* 
On his bringing it home I treated the whole thing as a 
^oke. About the same time the negroes of the county 
were much alarmed by accounts of a wild man, who 
made steps ' seven miles long,' who had hair reaching to 
the earth, and lived in the swamps, and ate all the 
negroes that crossed the bridges. This man proved to 
be the Ku-Klux Klan. The name and story of the wild 
man, together with the bit of engraved card, afforded 
infinite merriment in our house for both myself and 
children, Mr. Chisolm having already understood its 
meaning, but refraining from explaining because of the 
uneasiness he knew it would give me. This was in 
the year 1869 and '70. During that year there were 
regularly appointed club meetings held, with open doors, 

6o TJic Chisohn Alassacrc. 

by the republicans. The democracy have held their 
meetings with locked doors. While Mr. Chisolm would 
be at these meetings the creatures would come around 
our house at night. We were then living out half a 
mile from town, and on the hillside was a grove of 
trimmed oaks.. These they would get among anci use 
the most obscene and profane language, professing to 
address Mr. Chisolm, knowing, by virtue of sight, that 
he was in the court house. One night they shot into 
the house, at the dog, which was lying on the steps; 
but the gate was far from the house, and they were 
afraid to come quite to the fence. I had no other 
earthly protection than an old negro woman (Nellie). I 
made her come with me and carry a gun ; but before 
I could fire it they ran out of sight, under the shadows 
of the trees. Later Mr. Chisolm had started to Macon, 
and they, finding it out, came at night and took about 
twenty-five panels of fence down on each side of tlTe 
road, for the purpose of letting the cattle destroy his 
crop. Some kind friend sent him word at Scooba, 
before he left town. He hastily returned, and, going 
among the friends of the Gully s. Hulls, Waddles, etc., 
said very publicly he would deceive them about being 
absent, and the next time they approached his house he 
would himself be among the trees, with several guns, 
and would select his men to suit his own judgment, and 
he would be sure to bring them down. This stopped 
most effectually that manner of attack. Time passed 
on, and Mr. C. had the attack of asthma I have told 
you of in a previous letter, in which even the doctor 

"■Home Rule'' in Mississippi. 6i 

thought he had died. The news went to a county 
church. The gentlemanly Gully, with horrid oaths, 
asserted that he ought to have been dead long since. 
But God, for that time, disappointed him, and my hus- 
band began to recover, as if by magic. Tuesday night, 
after the severe spasmodic attack of asthma, (it occurred 
Sunday), he being still unable to he down, heard the 
voices of men outside the gate, and, listening attentively, 
found they were in quite a large number. He told me 
what he thought; but not being able to stand, I took 
him his pistols. He then found his strength insufficient 
to hold and cap the pistols. I sat by him, and, with 
his directions, re-capped both his pistols and his gun. 
All this was right in front of the door, Mr. Chisolm 
being still unable, from his terrible attack and from his 
present difficulty in breathing, to go into another room, 
and not thinking best to close the door. It was also 
known his friends and kindred had been visiting him 
from his mother's neighborhood, and they could not 
know how many were still there. I called from the 
house for the negro man who lived nearest us, and who 
was in our employ. The Ku-Klux began, during the stir, 
to go away, starting in the direction of the Hulls. I had 
it afterwards from one who professed to be an eye-witness, 
that they ate supper at John Gully's that night, having 
their horses hid in the woods, where they also dressed in 
their hideous robes and masks. Soon after, another 
negro told one of our hirelings they took a meal they 
called breakfast at four o'clock in the morning at old Phil 
Gully's By nine o'clock of the next day Phil and Bob 

62 The CJiisolm Massacre. 

Gully, of Neshoba, were at our house, Phil, in his great 
affection, riding through the gate and seeming inordi- 
nately glad to see my poor, persecuted husband. He 
inquired if he saw any Ku-Klux the night before. Mr. 
Chisolm told him he was not able to see out at any- 
thing; but heard men talking, and, being sick was not 
in a state to be dragged about by them. Old Gully 
then said he thought they would not hurt a sick man, 
and announced himself opposed to any such plans. 
But not yet done, he insisted, as soon as Mr. Chisolm 
would be able to ride, I should put him in a buggy and 
take him to his house to spend a week eating water- 
melons; to his house, in the very edge of the creek 
swamp and the very nest of the Ku-Klux, where you 
might blow a horn and bring up a small army." 

From late in 1869 to 1871 — less than two years, — 
some thirty-five negroes were known to have been killed 
by the Ku-Klux; while whippings took place almost 

By the untiring perseverance and courage of Judge 
Chisolm and a few of his associates, the military were 
enabled to raid heavily and more successfully upon the 
Klan, and numbers of them were arrested, while others 
fled for safety and sought new fields of glory in more 
hospitable climes. Many of the men apprehended, says 
Judge Chisolm in his testimony, told by whom they had 
been encouraged to perform these acts of lawlessness. 
Foremost among the names given in this connection were 
those of John W. Gully and Dr. Fox. Gully and Fox 
had promised these young men to defend them in case 

^^Home Rule'' in Mississippi, 63 

of arrest by the courts or military, but when adversity 
came they had failed to do so in a single instance. This 
had the effect to well-nigh destroy the influence of the 
Klan as an organization, but the work of death and out- 
lawry did not stop here. 


The patient reader is asked to follow still farther this 
dark pathway, strewn with the accumulated evidences 
of a generation of crime defiant and unwhipped of justice. 

John McRea, who, as stated before, became Chisolm's 
successor in the office of probate judge, being a republi- 
can and a young man of brilliant promise, had also 
incurred the displeasure of John W. Gully; and, a ren- 
countre between McRea and Hull, in which McRea 
chastised Hull severely with a cane, added to the inten- 
sity of Gully's hatred, and, as in the case of Chisolm, 
Rush and others, pursued him unrelentingly. 

A brief account of McRea's life, and the manner of 
his death at the hands of John W. Gully, becomes neces- 
sary here, and will be of interest to the reader. The 
story is furnished by McRea's sister, now living in Kem- 
per county. It is given in her own language : 

" It has often been denied that politics had anything to 
do with the frequent killing of republicans in Kemper 
county, but I am certain it had in the case of Judge John 
McRea. It is true, there was a family feud between the 
McReas and Gullys that dated back to the fall of 1848, 
and as the Gullys bragged they never forgave, so did the 
McReas. They had been on speaking terms for years 
before the death of Judge McRea, but nothing more. 
The hate was still there, and was only fanned into a 
fiercer flame in the bosom of the Gullys by the sons of 

"•Home Rule'' in Mississippi. 65 

the McReas rising in life, and displaying talent which 
the Gullys never possessed. Judge McRea was a lawyer 
of ability. When the war broke out he went as a 
private soldier and rose to the rank of adjutant of his 
regiment. He remained in the army until the summer 
of 1864, when he came home and said his conscience 
would not permit of his continuing in a cause he 
abhorred. He was the first white person in Kemper to 
declare himself a republican, which was in the year 1867. 
John W. Gully was then sheriff, and from that time 
commenced to insult and persecute the Judge. McRea 
was appointed probate judge by General Ord, and after- 
ward circuit judge by General Ames. McRea and 
Chisolm began to recommend men to office whom they 
knew had been loyal. This gave an additional offense 
to the Gullys, as they knew they would have to go out, 
for they had formerly controlled all the offices of the 
county. John Gully had a habit of blustering and 
scaring people out of his way. He tried it several times 
with Judge McRea, but found it would not work, and 
concluded he would use buckshot. In February, 1869, 
as Judge McRea was leaving the court house, in 
company with the district attorney and his (McRea's) 
father, an old gray-headed man. Gully came walking 
down the street, singing a vulgar song, evidently for the 
purpose of insulting Judge McRea. McRea stopped 
and told his father and the district attorney to stay there 
until he could 'see that man,' meaning Gully. Gully 
had his pistol in his hand, and Judge McRea had his in 
his sheath. As McRea advanced Gully backed, neither 

66 TJie Chisolm Massacre, 

speaking a word, until Gully reached his own store door, 
when he reached out a double-barrel gun, dropping his 
pistol. McRea's father had followed, and was just 
behind the Judge. When Gully raised his gun, McRea 
said: 'You are not coming it right, sir;' when Gully 
fired. McRea kept advancing and Gully discharged the 
other barrel. Then McRea said : '-now I'll get you,' and 
rushed forward. Both barrels of Gully's gun took effect 
in McRea's face and breast. When Gully fired the last 
barrel he ran into his store and shut the door after him, 
and on through the store into the back room and shut 
that door. By the time McRea got to the door he was 
so blinded by blood that he could see nothing. He 
pushed the door open and fired every round of his pistol 
in the store, playing sad havoc with dry goods, but fail- 
ing to hit Gully. The Judge sank down from loss of 
blood, and was taken up by his father and some negroes, 
carried home and a doctor sent for; but Gully's gun 
happened to be loaded with squirrel shot. Some boys 
had had it the day before and had drawn the buckshot 
out, and left it loaded with small shot. The doctor 
examined all the wounds, and when asked by McRea's 
brother-in-law, in the presence of McRea's sister, if any 
of the wounds would prove fatal, answered : ' No ! 
unless some of the shot penetrated the lungs. In that 
case consumption would be likely to follow.' McRea 
was confined to his room three weeks, and when he left 
it, he had a cough which was pronounced consumption 
by the best physicians in the country. He died in the 
March following, i860. As he was the first McRea who 

''Home Rule'' in Mississippi. 6/ 

had ever died of consumption, as far back as the family 
could be traced, the world can judge what brought it on. 
The case was not brought before the grand jury of Kem- 
per until after the death of McRea. Then there was no 
indictment found." 

It was not far from this time that a man named 
White said some disagreeable things about Higgins, a 
school teacher. Higgins was a spirited fellow, and com- 
pelled White to give a written retraction or apology for 
the insult offered. Floyd, who was a brother-in-law of 
White, felt himself aggrieved that White should have 
been compelled to do an act so disgraceful as to publicly 
retract a statement he had once made and declared to 
be true ; and accordingly headed a crowd of desperadoes, 
who went to Higgins and tried to force him to give up 
the writing which White had been induced to sign and 
deliver to him. White and his crowd, who resorted to 
every species of insult and threat, were unable to obtain 
the coveted paper. Higgins, feeling very much incensed 
at this attempt to bully and humble him, grew desperate, 
and on the following day met Floyd and killed him, 
never trying to escape nor in any way avoid the conse- 
quences. There still being no jail in DeKalb, he was 
sent to Macon, in an adjoining county, and there con- 
fined. When brought back for trial, Higgins was placed 
in charge of a man named W. G. Edwards, who was so 
well liked by the democracy as to have been made a 
constable by them. Higgin's father and Edwards, to- 
gether, contrived the escape of the prisoner. They were 
all members of the same great and good party. 

68 The CJiisohn Massacre, 

Some time after this Dennis Jones, a negro living on 
some railroad land near J udge Chisolm's plantation, pro- 
cured the Judge's consent to build a fish trap in the 
creek which ran through it. One night, when on his 
trap, Dennis was shot and killed. His wife charged the 
crime upon a white family living near, who had accused 
Dennis of stealing their cotton. 

Bob Dabbs then had a difficulty with a freedman 
named Walter Riley, and one night soon after, he was 
shot by some one from the outside of Gully's grocery, 
and mortally wounded. Before his death he expressed 
the belief that it was the negro with whom he had had 
the difficulty who shot him. This is all that is known 
at this time of the killing of Dabbs. 

As late as the year 1875 Mr. Morton, while returning 
to his home in Kemper from a trip to Meridian, where 
he had been, as was thought, for the purpose of collecting 
a large amount of money, was waylaid and shot by some 
one in ambush. Two negroes were suspicioned, arrested 
by Judge Chisolm, while sheriff, convicted and sent to 
the penitentiary. Morton is still living. 

In November, 1869, James L. Alcorn was made gov- 
ernor of the State by the popular vote. Soon after 
Alcorn's election Judge Chisolm was appointed sheriff, 
holding the office by virtue of the appointment until 
1 871, at which time he was elected by the people, and 
Charles Rosenbaum, a young man of sterling character, 
who was born and raised in DeKalb, was made his chief 

In the canvass of 1871, John P. Gilmer, a native of 

''Home Rule'' in Mississippi, 69 

Heard county, Georgia, where he was born February 29, 
1846, an ex-Confederate soldier, and a young man 
engaged in the mercantile business in Scooba, came out, 
openly declared himself a republican, and supported 
Judge Chisolm for sheriff. Up to this time Gilmer's 
character was good, and no slighting or slanderous word 
had ever been whispered against him. He moved in the 
first circles of the society where he lived, and the very 
worst that could be said of him was that he partook 
too much of the reckless habits of a very large majority 
of the best young men of the country. Being of good 
reputation otherwise, bold and vigorous, it is not to be 
wondered at that a sagacious man like Judge Chisolm 
should make the most of the acquisition of Gilmer to 
the ranks of his party. But alas ! in the case of Gilmer, 
as in that of every white man who ever voted the repub- 
lican ticket in the county, he was soon branded as the 
vilest of all vile men. 

It was here that "Hal" Dawson first appeared upon 
the scene in Kemper county politics, and for a time he is 
made a central figure in the progress of this story. 
Dawson was said to have sprung from a family, that, for 
generations back, were noted chiefly for their deeds of 
violence; and Dawson, himself, was admitted by all to 
have been a very dangerous and desperate man, especially 
when under the influence of liquor. He appeared from 
day to day in the streets of Scooba, clad in a gaily 
colored flannel over-shirt, open at the neck, without vest 
or coat, and pants fastened at the waist with a large 
leather belt, from which was generally suspended a six- 

70 The CJiisolm Massacre. 

shooter and a knife of enormous size. The grotesque- 
ness of this costume was increased by the addition of a 
pair of very high topped boots, and Mexican spurs the 
size of a small cart-wheel. "Hal" was in the habit of 
getting drunk every day, and his special province seemed 
to be to curse and abuse " radicals." He had repeatedly 
threatened Gilmer, and said that he would either drive 
him from the town or kill him. On one occasion, while 
Gilmer was sitting in front of his store, reading a paper, 
Dawson leveled a gun at him from across the street, and, 
with both barrels cocked, called the attention of the 
by-standers to the fact that he was about to shoot the 
paper out of Gilmer's hands. Some of his friends 
insisted that he should not do it, fearing that Gilmer 
himself might receive a portion of the lead. Dawson 
insisted that he could hit the paper without injury to 
Gilmer, and while the friend stood in the street, at a 
distance of ten or twelve paces, with his feet some 
twelve inches apart, arguing the case, in momentary 
expectation of seeing Gilmer killed, Dawson fired 
between his friend's legs, and killed a hog just in the act 
of passing, a short distance behind him. 

It was while in the enjoyment of one of these festive 
occasions that Dawson was especially abusive of Gilmer, 
and Davis, Gilmer's clerk, who was a m.ember of the 
board of registration. Taking his pistol in his hand, 
Dawson went into Gilmer's store. Passing Gilmer at the 
door, as he entered, he remarked that Davis was the man 
he wanted to see. Davis had taken a position in the back 
end of the building, armed with a double-barrel gun, which 

''Home Rule'' in Mississippi. yi . 

he discharged at Dawson, just at the moment the latter 
fired his pistol. Dawson then wheeled around, facing 
Gilmer, who also fired, when Dawson fell to the floor 
mortally wounded, still grasping the pistol in his hand. 
On examination by Mr. Clay McCall and B. F. Rush, 
who went into the store upon the instant, it was found 
that one chamber of Dawson's pistol had just been 
discharged, and upon further inquiry the marks left by 
the bullet were discovered in the wall. 

The killing of Dawson was at once heralded abroad as . 
a most wicked and diabolical murde^;. Gilmer and Davis 
were both arrested and carried to DeKalb, the county 
seat, and there placed in charge of the sheriff. The 
prisoners were confined at the court house, in charge of 
an officer. 

The night following the killing of Dawson, Gilmer's 
store was broken open by a mob, his goods taken out 
into the street and all not carried off were burned. 
The following day a crowd, numbering ten or twelve 
men, went from Scooba to DeKalb, and demanded 
of the sheriff that the prisoners should be carried 
back to Scooba for a preliminary hearing. To this 
demand the sheriff — Judge Chisolm — would not con- 
sent, knowing very well that if Gilmer and Davis ever 
passed from under his guardianship they would be shot 
in cold blood; besides, under the sheriff's watchful eye, 
and at the county seat, was the proper place for prison- 
ers to be held charged with a high offense. An examina- 
tion was had in DeKalb, at which three magistrates 
presided, one of whom, at least, was a democrat, and the 

72 The Chisolm Massacre. 

prisoners were placed under a bond of ^3,000 each, for 
their appearance at the ensuing term of the circuit court. 
Dawson's rare genius in the indiscriminate use of the 
pistol and knife, had endeared him to a large circle of 
kindred spirits in Alabama, who determined to avenge 
his death. These Alabamians, from the inception of the 
Ku-Klux Klan in the South, seemed to take the lead in 
deeds of atrocity. They were more thoroughly organ- 
ized and much better mounted and equipped than the 
brotherhood in almost any other portion of the South, 
and they seemed tp take special delight, whenever an 
occasion presented, and " occasions " could be gotten up 
to order at any time, in setting an example before their 
weaker and less effective brethren along the Mississippi 
border. As a proof of their superior skill and entire 
willingness to make their benefactions general, let us 
turn aside for a moment and call to mind the riot and 
massacre at Meridian, which took place on the 6th of 
March, 1871, a few months prior to the occurrences just 
enumerated. From a recital of its lamentable details it 
will be seen how these organized desperadoes were in 
the habit of invading the soil of an adjoining State, 
committing there any act of violence and blood which 
their savage hearts might prompt them to do, and then 
to return with all the pomp and assurance of a conquer- 
ing army. 


Meridian, like Scooba, is situated only eighteen miles 
from the Alabama line, and thirty-five from DeKalb. 
Previous to the riot this place was one of the most thriv- 
ing in the State, and indeed, it might be said, the whole 
South. It was a new town, having sprung up mainly 
after the close of the war. Its reputation for thrift and 
enterprise was becoming national, and men and money 
fromi every quarter of the union were fast coming in and 
adding to its wealth and prosperity. William Sturges, a 
native of Connecticut, and well connected in the place, 
a gentleman of culture and refinement, was first made 
an alderman and afterward appointed Mayor by the 
Governor. Sturges' private character was good, and his 
executive ability such as to have made for him an excel- 
lent reputation as Mayor. But unfortunately for him 
and the prosperity of Meridian, he was also a " radical," 
and had been " foisted upon the people " by the indirect 
aid of the poor and despised negro. Under Sturges' 
supervision the colored men were organized into clubs, 
had a band of music, and, when occasion required, they 
would promenade the streets, just the same as their 
white brethren do, and ever have done since the formation 
of the government. They were in the habit of holding 
public meetings, at which time the speeches made, it is 
true, were not always such as to please a democratic 
auditory. The marching of large bodies of negroes, 

74 1^^^^ Chisohn Massacre, 

headed by a band of music playing patriotic airs, in 
itself was sufficient to arouse a spirit of hostility toward 
the newly made citizens; but their "incendiary" 
speeches threatened the "peace and dignity" of the 
" good people " of the place. To use a phrase which has 
long since passed into a proverb, Meridian must be 
carried, " peaceably if we can, forcibly if we must." 

Some time in the winter preceding the riot, a man 
named Daniel Price, who had been driven from his home 
in Alabama, took refuge in Meridian, where he became 
a teacher of a free school. Price had been a gallant 
soldier in the cause of the Confederacy, was a man of 
fair education, a native of the South, and, so far as has 
ever appeared, of good character. He was followed to 
Meridian by an armed band of his old persecutors, who 
sought his life. Price had drawn around him a number 
of friends, who secreted him from his pursuers, who 
returned after raiding the town in wanton violation of 
the law and the peace and dignity of the people. But a 
few days after this occurrence there arrived a negro from 
Alabama, who stated that he was a deputy sheriff; that 
he came with the proper papers to arrest certain parties 
in Meridian — colored men — and carry them back to 
Alabama. Never having shown his authority to any 
one, it was believed that he was an impostor and trying 
to act without the shadow of law ; and one night, when 
prowling around among the negro cabins, some one 
assailed and gave him a severe beating, whereupon the 
negro returned to the persons who had sent him. This 
treatment of their agent in crime was made a pretext 

^''Home Rule'' in Mississippi, 75 

for a second raid into Meridian, by the same men, and 
this time they came in larger numbers and with an 
apparent determination to do greater mischief. Price, 
meantime, had been arrested, charged with having com- 
mitted the assault upon the Alabama negro, who had 
falsely assumed to be a deputy sheriff. Price had given 
bond for appearance, and, on the day set for examination, 
about seventy-five or one hundred of these Sumpter 
county desperadoes came, as they said, to " see a fair 
trial." Price was urged by his political friends to leave, 
as it was believed by them that he would be murdered 
if he remained, and that a general riot might follow. 
He finally left, forfeiting his bond, which was paid by his 
republican associates, and he has never been seen or 
heard from in Meridian since. Their failure to reach 
Price seemed to increase the fury of the marauders, who 
took entire possession of the town, and especially the 
"groceries." Republicans, both black and white, were 
insulted, and the most prominent among them finally 
sought safety in flight. Unable to find a pretext for a 
general riot and killing, the mob, after kidnapping three 
negroes, returned with them to the place of their ren- 
dezvous, in Sumpter county, Alabama. What then was 
done with the negroes is not known to this day. 

Saturday night of March 4th, but a few days, or weeks 
at most, from the date of these occurrences, a fire broke 
out in the storehouse of Sturges, Hurlbut and Company, 
in Meridian, a leading and influential mercantile firm, 
doing business in the place. Theodore Sturges, of the 
house just named, was a brother of William Sturges, 

76 TJie CJiisolni Massacre. 

the mayor. The mayor was his brother's bookkeeper, 
and lived with him at his home. Notwithstanding this 
fact, absurd as the statement will readily appear, it was 
rumored that the fire had been set by some negroes, at 
the instance of William Sturges. 

A whole block was burned down, and the house of 
Sturges, Hurlbut and Company was destroyed. During 
the progress of the conflagration riotous conduct on the 
part of a few prominent negroes was charged by the 
whites, and one colored man was knocked down with a 
gun and left for dead. Still unable to find sufficient 
cause for a riot, that night several negroes were arrested 
and carried before Judge Bramlett for trial the following 
Monday — March 6th — on a charge of "trying to incite 
riot," by making incendiary speeches, etc. A large crowd 
of white men, citizens of Meridian, had assembled, osten- 
sibly to listen to the trial ; but really, as will soon appear, 
for the purpose of raising a general row and killing off 
the leading republicans, black and white. A white man 
was placed upon the stand to testify against Warren 
Tyler, one of the accused. Tyler, who was an unusually 
bright and intelligent fellow, and brave as Julius Caesar, 
proposed to impeach the testimony of the witness. The 
idea of a negro attempting to impeach a white gentle- 
man's evidence was too much, and could not be endured. 
The witness seized a heavy walking stick and approached 
Tyler, who stepped backward to avoid a blow aimed at 
his head. Tyler had been disarmed when arrested, and 
exhibited no weapons, according to the testimony of a 
large number of witnesses ; and it is admitted that when 

''Home Rule" in Mississippi. jj 

he went into the court room he had no arms. But as 
the man advanced with his stick a score or more of pis- 
tols were drawn by the whites, who began* an indiscrim- 
inate firing. A pistol shot, coming from the side occu- 
pied by the whites, struck Judge Bramlett in the fore- 
head, and he sank dead upon the judicial bench. Two 
negroes were killed on the spot; one of them was 
robbed and his throat cut from ear to ear. The court 
room was cleared in an instant, and for three long days 
and nights riot and murder ran wild and unbridled 
throughout and far beyond the limits of the town. 
Before ten o'clock at night of the same day one hundred 
and fifty armed men arrived from Alabama, who were 
immediately joined by the " good citizens " of Meridian. 
Together they took possession of the town, and high- 
ways, and railroad trains leading into it. Colored men 
were hunted down like wild beasts, and shot in the fence 
corners and in the woods, where many of them fled for 
safety. Their churches and residences were burned, and 
hundreds fled the country, never again to return. 

That portion of the mob made up from Meridian was 
composed of doctors, lawyers, ministers and merchants 
— those who pray loudest in public places — and in short 
the " better class " of people. The mayor took refuge in 
the house of his brother, prepared himself with a dozen 
loaded guns and pistols, and determined to sell his life 
as dearly as possible. Several times the mob, three or 
four hundred strong, surrounded the house and de- 
manded that Sturges should be given up or the house 
would be burned down over his head and those of the 

78 The Chisolm Massacre, 

brother and his family. Bar rooms were forced open, 
and whether willing to do so or not, their keepers were 
compelled to pour out whisky without stint or limit, and 
of course without price ; and the natural brutality of the 
rioters was warmed into more active life by the aid of 
that most potent of all weapons in the hands of a 
Mississippi democrat^ bad whisky. About twenty 
lives were sacrificed. 

It will be remembered that Sturges was a good Mayor, 
and in the thorough and impartial discharge of every 
duty pertaining to his office, the very best the town has 
ever had, before or since. This fact, perhaps, was the 
cause of greater hostility toward him than anything else; 
|br, in the matter of making arrests and in the treatment 
of all parties who came or were brought before him in 
his official capacity, he made no distinction on account 
of color or previous condition. But his integrity was so 
great, and his administration so thorough, that he had 
many friends and admirers, even among his worst politi- 
cal enemies ; and, when it was found that his life was to 
be sacrificed, a few came to his assistance by the way of 
remonstrating with the mob, and promising that if his life 
was spared, he should leave the town and the State for 
all coming time. These terms were finally agreed upon, 
and under an escort of one hundred men, headed by R. 
L. Henderson, a brave man and a good citizen, he was 
taken to the train and permitted to depart. 

At the time of the riot. Meridian had a vigorous and 
growing population, numbering nearly or quite six 
thousand. To-day about twenty-five hundred souls can 

"Home Rule" in Mississippi. 79 

be counted there, many of them without thrift or pros- 
perity. Along the busy streets that were traversed, in 
those dark days, by this wild and ungovernable mob, 
with loud shouts and curses, brandishing in mid air the 
torch, fresh lighted in the burning ruins of the humble 
negro cabin, and carrj-'ing in their belts the knife or pistol 
dripping with his innocent blood, can now be seen whole 
blocks of solid brick whose only occupant is the cock- 
roach, the bat and owl. " Democracy " has reigned there 
supreme from that day to this, but the hand of the 
assassin and the torch of the incendiary have neither of 
them been suppressed. There are no more bands 
of music in the hands of j'ubilant and happy negroes 
discoursing patriotic airs, it is true ; the " good people " 
are spared all that, but arson and murder, bankruptcy 
and ruin meet the beholder on every hand. 

Only last year the mayor of the city was indicted for 
and convicted of crime and misdemeanor w^hile yet in 
office, and was subsequently re-elected and still holds 
that honorable position, with the decree of the court, 
unanswered, hanging over him. 


The night of the 3d of November following the killing 
of Dawson, a body of Alabamians, numbering about 
fifty men, arrived at DeKalb, in Kemper county, and 
stopped at the grocery store of John W. Gully. For a 
week or more previous to this an unusual stir had been 
noticed among the leaders of the Klan in DeKalb. At 
Gully's, frequent and prolonged meetings or consultations 
had been held, by day and night, for some purpose, 
nobody knew what, save the plotters of iniquity them- ^ 
selves. This had aroused a suspicion on the part of the 
republicans in the place, that a "big job" of Ku-Kluxing 
was soon to take place somewhere in the county, and 
they were on the alert, and, upon hearing of the arrival 
of the Alabamians, Gilmer and Davis, who were still in 
custody, accompanied by one or two others, by consent 
of the sheriff, took to the woods for safety. Judge 
Chisolm, himself, had gone home that night, sick with 
asthma. No clearer statement of what followed can be 
given than that taken from his testimony before the 
investigating committee, at Washington, a few months 
later. This evidence « will be found on page 250 of the 
official report of the committee. In answer to a question 
by Mr. Poland, the chairman, Judge Chisolm said : 

"On the night of the 3d of November, I was not well; 
I am frequently bothered with asthma, and I did not go 
to sleep until three o'clock in the morning. About that 

''■Home Rule" in Mississippi. 8i 

time I got relief and slept soundly. About half an hour 
before sunrise of that morning, a colored boy came to my 
room and woke me up. He had been my driver since 
the war. This boy came into my room and told me that 
old Aunt Charlotte, who lives over on a hill near by, had 
told him that there was a body of armed men between 
my house and town, secreted in the bushes ; that they 
had been there for two hours or more. I told the boy 
that I supposed it was only some men who had been 
drinking down there and had alarmed Aunt Charlotte. 
After looking to see what time of day it was, I turned 
to go to bed again. The colored boy started out, and 
when he got to the door, said: 'Judge, the old woman 
thinks she is positive about these men, and she is very 
much alarmed ; had you better not see something about 
it?' Said I, ' Hezz, you go and see who they are; if 
you know nothing about them, and they are armed, 
come back and we will go after the rascals.' I then laid 
down and went to sleep again, and slept until after sun- 
rise, when my little boy came in and told me that my 
breakfast was waiting for me: After eating, I started 
out in the direction of DeKalb, when I met the boy, in 
company with another from Neshoba county, whom I 
had under arrest. I had arrested him, but had released 
him to stay at my house until the Neshoba court met. 
I met them at the gate, and saw that this boy was very 
much excited. He said, 'Judge, there are twenty-five 
or thirty men over there after you.' Said I, ' What in 
the d — 1 are they after me for? Where are they ?' He 
said, ' They have gone on in the direction of DeKalb.' 

82 The Chisolin Massacre. 

Said I to Hezz, 'you go by and tell Joe, Tom and April 
to get their guns and come up town as quick as they 
can.' I went back into the house, got my gun and went 
to the court house. I did not go, however, the regular 
way. When I got into town, the people were very much 
excited. In fact, before I got there, I had been told that 
several notes had been sent to my house warning me of 
the presence of these men. The notes did not reach me, 
as they were sent by the big road. I asked the people 
what it all meant, and they told me that they knew 
nothing about it. They had seen these men come 
into town and go in the direction of my house, but 
they had no idea where they were going, and thought 
it was a body of soldiers. They were on horses, 
and when they came back from my house they 
stopped at John Gully's grocery and got a gallon of 
whisky, and then left town. The first boy they seized — 
the one I had there from Neshoba county — said they 
arrested him about day-light, when going toward my 
house. He said they asked him what his name was and 
where he was going. He- told them that he was going 
to the house of a man by the name of Judge Chisolm. 
They asked if I was the sheriff. He said he knew 
nothing about that; that he had never been in DeKalb 
until three days before ; that a man had come up to Col. 
Powers' place, brought him down there and put him in 
jail, and that a man called Judge Chisolm came there 
and took him out of the jail, and told him to stay at his 
house until the court was held in Neoshoba county. 
They then asked the boy if I did not come that way in 

''Home Rule'' in Mississippi. 83 

coming to DeKalb. He told them I did. He was 
asked if I could get to DeKalb by any other route, 
and he said not that he knew of. They asked what 
time I usually went to DeKalb, and the boy said, gener- 
ally about sun-up. One of the crowd then struck him 
with a stick and said, ^G— d d— n you, you are playing 
off on us ; you know he goes to town sometimes by this 
trail-way.' They proposed to hang him to make him tell ; 
but a man they called 'Captain' interfered and said that 
the boy might be telling the truth; that he might have 
just come and might know nothing about what was 
there at all. When the other boy whom I sent 
from my house went out they were in the bushes, and 
he said that when he got within twenty steps of them, 
while not on the look-out, and before he saw or 
knew anything about them, they had up their guns and 
pointed in his direction, and told him to come to them, 
and of course he went. They asked his name and he 
told them. They then asked where I was, and he said 
I was sick. They asked if he did not live with me, and 
he said he did. They said, ' How is it that he is sick 
this morning, when he was not sick last evening?' The 
boy said he knew I was not sick the evening before, but 
that he had just left me in bed sick. They wanted to 
know if I was not going to DeKalb; he said he did not 
know anything about that; that he only knew I told 
him I was sick, and that he supposed I was not going 
to DeKalb that day. They were along the road that 
leads to my house. I lived at that time about a mile 
out of town. The men took him down to the other 

84 TJie Chisolm Massacre. 

corner, to a crowd of men, and asked for a man they 
called 'Captain' — no other name — who was in the 
bushes, and said to him : ' There is a boy that lives 
with this fellow, the sheriff; he says he is sick.' The 
' Captain ' and this Lieutenant (the boy said they called 
him Lieutenant, he did not know his name) went off 
and talked a few minutes together. He heard one of 
them say, 'What will we do now?' The Lieutenant 
said to the Captain, ' Well, I am not going to the house.' 
The Captain said, ' Neither am I, by !' 

They then called their men up and sat these boys 
down on a log, and ordered them not to tell one word of 
what had been said to them or they would kill them. 
One of the men took out a watch and gave the time of 
day, and told him to remain there one hour; said that 
they were going down to Saluda creek, below town, and 
were going to stay there until Saturday night, when 
they would come back. This is what they said to 
the colored boys ; but they did not remain. I got up 
a posse of fifteen men, black and white, and followed 
them to the Alabama line, to Paineville, in Sumpter 

Effort was made to indict Gilmer and Davis for the 
killing of Dawson; but so notorious was Dawson's 
character, and so generally was it known that he was 
the aggressor on the occasion in which he lost his life, 
that, notwithstanding the bitterness which existed 
against Gilmer and Davis on account of their politics 
the idea of a prosecution was abandoned. 

The names of the grand jury before whom the facts 

'■''Home Rule"" in Mississippi, 85 

were brought are here given. Eight of this jury were 
democratic and seven were repubHcan ; and members of 
this jury assert that every possible effort was made to 
indict, but the evidence would not permit. Mr. B. Y. 
Ramsey, the attorney who represented the State before 
the jury, and a fierce democrat, instructed the foreman 
that the cases could not be separated ; that if one was 
indicted the other must be. This the acting district 
attorney said in answer to a question as to whether or 
not a case of malicious mischief could be found against 
Gilmer, who, it was alleged, shot Dawson after he was 
dead. One of the witnesses called by the State — Mr. 
Scott Spencer, also a democrat — testified before the jury 
that he tried repeatedly on that day to prevent Dawson 
from going into Gilmer's store. The following are the 
names of the jury: J. A. Burton, Thomas W. Adams, 
Peter E. Spinks, William Dear, T. H. Morton, J. J. 
Tinsly, J. C. Carpenter, C. P. Chancey, George Robin- 
son, Thos. Orr, Henry Greer, James Welch, Kinch Welch, 
Charles Nichols, and Henderson Ramsey. 


But the persecution of Judge Chisolm by the Ala- 
bamians whom he had so far thwarted in their endeavors 
to take his life, did not stop here. In another chapter it 
is stated that the family connections of Dawson had for 
generations been conspicuous for their deeds of violence 
and blood. Among these there was a man named Dil- 
lard, who lived at Gainesville, not far from the Mississippi 
line. Dillard had been somewhat conspicuous as a politi- 
cian, and at one time claimed to be a republican ; but in 
some way forfeited the confidence of the party, and 
failed to receive promotion correspondingly great with 
the estimate he had placed upon his own services and 
ability. From this Dillard returned to his 'first love, 
and again became a violent democrat. 

To one unacquainted with the history of southern 
politics it is not readily understood how a man can one 
day espouse a principle, and as quickly turn and become 
its most bitter and uncompromising opponent. The case 
becomes very plain, however, when the fact is known 
that there never was any principle involved in the con- 
version. When Southern men once affiliate with the 
republican party and fail to reach the object for which 
the evolution is performed, they are forced to take the 
opposite extreme in going back, in order to be admitted 
to anything like equal terms of membership within the 
ranks of the party once deserted. They are like 

'^ Home Rule'' in Mississippi. 87 

northern men living in the South during and since the 
war, who become the most violent and senseless advo- 
cates of the old doctrine of secession and State rights — 
a cause which, from education and instinct, most northern 
men abhor — becoming more bitter, violent and unreason- 
able in advocating the genuine southern faith than the 
most radical natives of that section. With all the 
assumed hostility to the teachings so early instilled into 
their hearts and minds, it is often difficult, and indeed 
many times impossible, for them to retain the confidence 
of the citizens among whom, at best, they can be but 
casually and incidentally adopted. This, however, is only 
applicable to those of either section who have reversed 
the old orthodox creed of " conviction before conversion." 
An honest conviction will often carry men far beyond 
the reach of selfish motives, even into the jaws of death 
itself, and so it is with the southern man who sacrifices 
social position, incurs the bitter and relentless enmity of 
kindred and early friends, and whom the tortures of the 
rack itself are unable to swerve from those principles of 
right and humanity which cannot be enjoyed within the 
ranks of the old party of disunion, hatred and intolerance. 
In the early fall of 1874, more than two years after the 
killing of Dawson, when in Meridian, on his return from 
a trip to Jackson, Judge Chisolm was confronted by a 
large, "red-faced" man — to use his own language — in 
company with one or two others, all appearing to be 
intoxicated. At every turn he was met by these men, 
with an angry and insulting stare. The Judge purposely 
avoided them, dreading the consequences of a difficulty, 

88 TJie Chisohn Massacre. 

which he believed to be the object of the strangers. 
The following day, as soon as the business hour of the 
morning arrived, Judge Chisolm repaired to the law office 
of Messrs. Hamm & Fewell, and while there, very much 
to his surprise and somewhat to his annoyance, who 
should come in but his disagreeable acquaintance of the 
day before. Preferring to transact business more 
privately, and still fearing a collision, the Judge, and one 
of his attorneys, stepped into an adjoining room, and not 
until then was he made aware of the fact that his " red- 
faced " friend of the day before, was none other than 
Judge Dillard of Gainesville, Alabama, the man who was 
known to have been foremost in inciting the invasion 
from Alabama into Kemper county, two years before, for 
the purpose of killing the leading republicans there. 
Judge Chisolm, soon after, went on the street in further 
pursuance of his business, and, when turning a corner, 
met an old acquaintance, who was at the time engaged 
in conversation with Judge Dillard. This friend, address- 
ing Judge Chisolm, and not knowing that any enmity 
existed between the two men, proposed the usual courte- 
sies of an introduction. Dillard at once very indignantly 
drew back, and said that he was not " receiving intro- 
ductions to d — d radical scoundrels! You are ad — d, 
thieving, radical scoundrel, sir !" said he to Judge Chis- 
olm. Still dreading the consequences of a difficulty, 
Chisolm, very much against his will, and sense of honor, 
again turned away and crossed the street. 

Dillard, in a voice loud enough to have been heard 
half a square distant, continued to curse and abuse Judge 

''Home Rule'' in Mississippi. 89 

Chisolm in the grossest manner, heaping upon him every 
insulting epithet known to the vocabulary of a southern 
politician of the democratic school. From this man, 
Dillard, Judge Chisolm received insults far greater than 
he had ever before taken from any one when himself 
plac^u under the most adverse and unfavorable circum- 
stances, and much less had he borne them from any person 
who stood singly and alone ; and while Dillard still had 
him at a disadvantage, Chisolm resolved to die rather 
than tamely submit to farther abuse. Having on a 
heavy talma, he threw it back so as not to be incumbered 
in drawing his pistol, and then started across the street 
toward Dillard, who, seeing him coming, drew and leveled 
his pistol and warned Chisolm off, still cursing him. 
Judge Chisolm drew and steadily advanced, the eyes 
of each peering into those of the other, without 
saying a word. When two or three steps distant, both 
fired. The shot from Judge Chisolm's pistol struck Dil- 
lard in the side, when they clinched, Chisolm throwing 
his antagonist to the ground, and, holding Dillard's 
weapon with one hand, he was just in the act of shoot- 
ing him with his own pistol which he held in the other, 
when a gentleman ran up and wrenched Chisolm's 
revolver from his grasp. Believing it was a life and 
death struggle, and not knowing how many men he 
might yet have to contend with, Judge Chisolm deter- 
mined upon finishing this one, at least ; and still 
holding Dillard prostrate, he reached into a hip pocket 
and drew another small pistol, which was quickly taken 
away from him, and the two were separated. 

90 TJie CJiisolm Massacre, 

Before a warrant had been issued for his arrest, Judge 
Chisolm placed himself under the protection of the 
sheriff, Capt. Bob Mosely, and while at the house of 
that officer, to save his little daughter, Cornelia, then 
attending school in the place, unnecessary alarm, he sent 
her a note, stating that he had had a difficulty with 
Judge Dillard — whose designs upon her father's hfe the 
daughter knew very well — and that he had wounded 
Judge Dillard, but himself was unharmed. This state- 
ment did not satisfy Cornelia, who feared that if her 
father had escaped thus far, he would again be attacked 
by greater numbers and finally killed, and she at once 
hurried to his room. The writer remembers well the 
appearance of this girl as she came into the presence of 
her father that day, when, choked with sobs, she under- 
took to return thanks for the kindly offices of those who 
had come to the aid of her beloved guardian. Though 
many evidences of her fondness for him had been wit- 
nessed before, this left a deeper impression than all else. 
Little was it thought then, however, that her unselfish 
devotion and sublime character — afterward so strikingly 
displayed — would soon place her name upon that scroll 
which holds sacred in 'the hearts of all true men and 
women, the good and virtuous deeds of those gone before. 

As usual, the cry of " an attempt to murder by an 
infamous radical" was raised. Judge Chisolm was 
arrested and placed under a bond, and at the following 
term of the circuit court, which convened very soon 
thereafter, a true bill was found, charging him with 
" assault with intent to kill." At the May term of the 

''Home Rule'' in Mississippi. 91 

next succeeding court — in 1875 — he was tried on the 
indictment and acquitted; the jury returning a verdict 
in fifteen minutes, without consultation or disagreement. 
William M. Hancock was the presiding judge, who, 
although a republican at the time, had been considered 
good enough by the democracy to hold the same respon- 
sible position for many long years, and through succeed- 
ing terms of office. 

In the year 1872 J. P. Gilmer was elected State 
senator to fill a vacancy occasioned by the death of 
Hon. W. S. Gambrel, a sketch of whose life and career 
as a union man and republican in Kemper county it now 
becomes necessary to present. The account given below 
is furnished by a lady, who for many years lived neighbor 
to Mr. Gambrel, and who knew the family and their cir- 
cumstances well. The statement of this lady is also 
corroborated by a member of the family now living in 
the county. Neither the intelligence nor the integrity of 
this witness will be questioned by any one. Her own 
language is quoted as nearly as possible. 

" At the opening of the war Mr. Gambrel was engaged 
in teaching school near a small town now known as Rio. 
He had the misfortune to have been born in Ohio, but 
came South in early youth. He married into a southern 
family, and was at the opening of the war, the father of 
several children. Always a strong unionist, and so 
expressing himself, he did not vote on the matter of 
secession, because there was no other ticket out. Soon 
after the opening of hostilities his wife, then in delicate 
health, became insane. His task was a hard one. The 

92 TJie CJiisol7}i Massacre. 

' committee,' as usual, while staying home from the war 
themselves, ' waited on him ' and ordered him out. He 
refused to comply, and soon after some of his pupils 
were taken sick. They accordingly decided to hang him 
if he did not go to the war, pretending that he had 
poisoned the spring because his pupils were southern 
children. Mr". Gambrel told them that his wife and 
children, his home and interests were all southern. 
Judge Chisolm, by his firmness and courage, prevented 
the hanging. Senator Gambrel was then compelled to 
leave his afflicted wife and little ones to the mercy of 
the savages of Kemper. He went into the army and 
delivered himself a prisoner in the first engagement, 
without firing a gun. The Federal officer gave him a 
position, the writer is quite sure, in the commissary 
department. He lived frugally, and at the war's ending 
had saved money enough to bring home many much 
needed comforts. His poor wife had recovered her 
mind, but the family were in squalid poverty. He soon 
placed them in comparative comfort; but the trials 
Mrs. Gambrel had passed through sent her speedily to 
the grave. He was often compelled to leave his children 
under the protection of the colored cook. One night 
Mr. Gambrel returned and retired without awakening his 
family. Before morning a negro broke into the room 
occupied by some of the older children. A faithful old 
servant gave the alarm, and when the father came in 
told him who she believed the intruder to be, and showed 
the place and manner of his escape. Mr. Gambrel after- 
ward confronted the supposed guilty negro — Flander 

""Home Ride" in Mississippi. 93 

Tones- and struck him a blow in the face. Jones then 
went to the cabin of another colored man and whde 
there ran some bullets, which, he told were for the pur- 
pose of killing Gambrel. When the two met agam a 
collision took place in which both fired pistols. Jones 
shot took effect, from which Mr. Gambrel died soon 
after. While on his death-bed he was visited by Judge 
Chisolm and many other friends." 

Mr Gambrel often spoke, when in the presence of 
the lady who furnished the above facts, in the highest 
terms of Judge Chisolm and his many acts of friendship, 
at a time when he, being a republican, had no other 
friend After reconstruction and the organization ot 
the Ku-Klux, Gambrel became the object of their 
especial hatred. His house being visited on several 
occasions, he was finally compelled to call in his neighbors 
— afew who were friendly and whom he could trust — 
to guard himself and premises at night. 

But it is now told by the great party of reform that 
Gambrel was killed at the instance of Judge Chisolm, to 
make room for Gilmer in the State senate. 


In November, 1873, Judge Chisolm was again elected 
sheriff by the popular vote, his term of office expiring in 
1875, at which time the political destinies of the whole 
State passed into the hands of the " good people." The 
registration of the vote of the county, since 1 868, shows 
the numerical strength of the blacks as compared with 
that of the whites, to have been very nearly equal. 
There never was but a slight preponderance of one over 
the other; yet for the constitutional convention of that 
year there was a republican majority of six hundred and 
eighty-seven votes. For Governor Alcorn, in 1869, there 
was a plurality of over two hundred; and in 1 871, at 
which time Judge Chisolm was first elected sheriff, 
the excess of votes for his ticket reached about one 
hundred and eighty. In 1872 it was over four hundred, 
and at the State election for governor, in 1873, the 
republican majorities for the various offices reached as 
high as two hundred. From these figures it will be seen 
that the strength of the party against which this terrible 
hostility existed did not depend upon the newly enfran- 
chised citizens. From the very outset it must have 
received a large native white vote; for upon no other 
hypothesis can these large majorities be accounted for. 

During the terms of Judge Chisolm's office he accu- 
mulated property, as every other sheriff in the State did, 
without a solitary exception. But the duties pertaining 

''Home Ride'' in Mississippi. 95 

to that position meantime were performed by him to the 
letter, and he was never accused of misappropriating a 
single dollar of public funds, notwithstanding the con- 
tinued hostility of those who sought his destruction in 
every possible way. 

That Judge Chisolm sometimes resorted to extraordi- 
nary measures to carry out the object in view will not 
be denied, and that the circumstances justified such 
means will hardly be doubted. A verification of the old 
adage or proverb of " fighting the devil with fire " would 
have been warranted, no doubt. 

Owing to the unsettled condition of the whole State 
and the inauguration of free schools in the county, the 
building of bridges and other changes and improvements 
made necessary by the results of the war, taxation 
became heavy, though credit had steadily improved; 
and, as already stated, county warrants had advanced 
since the accession of the men then in power, from 
twenty-five to seventy-five cents on the dollar. The 
greatest tax imposed upon the county, and the one of 
which the people complained most, was that made neces- 
sary by the establishment of the free schools, and it is 
a fact worthy of notice in passing, that the board of 
school directors for the county were, during the whole 
time, pronounced and uncompromising democrats, as 
they were also " racy of the soil." 

It is a fact, well known in the South, that for several 
years immediately following the close of the war, and 
even before that period, " speculations " in cotton became 
very common. In these operations vast fortunes were 

96 The Chisolm Massacre, 

sometimes made, and almost every one, who, by dint of 
good luck, or what often proved better, a determination 
to " win," could in any way become a party to a " cotton 
transaction," entered upon it with a will equaled only by 
their cupidity. To this good day it is the pride and 
delight of these men to relate their experience in running 
off " the great staple " and swindling the government out 
of its dues; and, what is more to their shame, "Uncle 
Sam " was not always the sufferer. In these transac- 
tions John W. Gully was a fortunate adventurer. His 
operations began early, and while he was sheriff a large 
amount of money placed in his hands by the Confederate 
authorities, with which to buy cotton, was thus expended, 
but when the. war closed he sold the cotton then on hand 
and put the money received for it in his own pocket. 
This cotton, by the terms of the surrender, belonged to 
the United States government, and should have been so 
accounted for. Several hundred bales were thus appro- 
priated by Gully. This fact is well known to the people 
of Kemper to-day, and Gully himself often boasted of 
his shrewdness in thus swindling the "d — d Yankee 

Having learned from experience the best manner of 
conducting little schemes like this, who so well as Gully 
could plan an illicit operation of the kind, place an enemy 
in the foreground, and make him appear to one unac- 
quainted with the " ways that are dark," as the principal 
operator and beneficiary? It was not, however, until the 
year 1871, when Judge Chisolm became a candidate before 
the people for the office of sheriff, that an accusation, 

''Home Rule'' in Mississippi. 97 

in the form of a " cotton speculation," was brought 
against him. It was then charged by John W. Gully, 
that Chisolm, in the capacity of probate judge — some 
four or five years before — had forged an affidavit by 
which a number of bales of cotton, supposed to belong 
to the United States authorities, were placed in the 
hands of gentlemen who clandestinely disposed of them, 
as Gully had disposed of that which fell into his hands. 
This charge Judge Chisolm refuted at the time it was 
brought, and despite the efforts of his unscrupulous 
enemies, was elected sheriff by a large popular vote. In 
the fall of 1876, when he became a candidate for Con- 
gress, the same old story was renewed. It was done 
after the Judge had left his home and gone into the 
canvass, beyond the reach of friends who were conversant 
with the facts, and through whom he might be able 
to establish his innocence, and first appeared in the 
Jackson Clarion^ a leading newspaper of the State. To 
this publication Judge Chisolm replied on the first oppor- 
tunity, through the columns of the same paper. As will 
be seen, his letter was written while at Greenwood, one 
hundred and fifty miles distant from home. 


Greenwood, Miss., Oct. 16, 1876. 

Editors Clarion : I respectfully request that you pub- 
lish this, my reply to certain charges which appeared 
against me in the columns of your issue of the 3d inst., 
and ask that other papers which have copied the article 
will likewise do me the justice to copy this. If there are 
those who think I have been slow in giving attention to 

98 The CJiisolni Massacre. 

this matter, I will state that, as a candidate for Congress, 
I have been busy in the canvass, away from home, and 
have been compelled to rely upon a correspondent to 
procure such documentary evidence as I deemed import- 
ant for my vindication. 

Your readers will remember that the main charge, and 
the one upon which all the others are based, was con- 
tained in the affidavit of one George L. Welsh, and 
which I here reproduce : 


[Perry Moore was dead when this affidavit was made,) 
The State of Mississippi, ) 
Kemper County. f 

Before me, W. W. Chisolm, judge of probate in and 
for said county, personally came Perry Moore, to me 
well known as a just and reliable citizen in said 
county, who, after being by me duly sworn accord- 
ing to law, deposeth and says, that he was with the 
United States forces under the command of General 
Sherman, in the county of Lauderdale, in the year (1864) 
eighteen hundred and sixty-four, in said State of Missis- 
sippi, on or about the 20th day of February, of said 
yea.r, on the road leading from Marion Station to Hills- 
boro, in Scott county, Mississippi, and he, the aforesaid, 
saw at one White's gin, on said road, about eight or ten 
miles from Marion Station, the said United States forces 
put fire to and burn one hundred and eighty-four bales 
of lint cotton (184), belonging to Robert J. Mosely. 
They, the United States forces, stated and told me it 
was by order of General Sherman. 

Perry Moore. 

Sworn to and subscribed before me, this, the 2d day of 
[L. S.] February, A. D. 1867. 

W. W. Chisolm, Probate Judge. 

^^ Home Rule'' in Mississippi. 99 


I certify that the foregoing is a true copy of the 
original papers, and that the name subscribed thereto, 
purporting to be the genuine signature of Perry Moore, 
is a base forgery, and so admitted to me by W. W. 
Chisolm, at the time I arrested said papers in his hands. 
Said Chisolm was at that time Judge of the Probate 
Court of Kemper county, and I was Clerk of said court. 

Geo. L. Welsh. 

DeKalb, Miss., September 30, 1876. 

To convict this poor wretch, Welsh, of being at once 
a simpleton as well as a liar, I call the attention of the 
public to the following extract from the records of the 
Probate Court of Kemper county: 

State of Mississippi, 

Kemper County. 
To the Honorable JoJm McRea, Judge of the Probate 

Court of said county : 

The undersigned, Jordan Moore, petitions your Honor 
to grant him letters of administration on the estate of 
Perry Moore, deceased, of said county, and in making 
this petition would state that said decedent departed 
this life on or about the eighth day of February, 1867; 
that he died without a will, seized of effects in said 
county, upon which it is necessary that administration 
should be had, and in duty bound your petitioners will 
ever pray. JORDAN MoORE. 

Sworn to and subscribed before me August 12, 1867. 

Geo. L. Welsh. 

The State of Mississippi, 

Kemper County. 

I, H. Rush, Clerk of the Chancery Court, in and for 

said county, do hereby certify that the foregoing is a 

correct copy of the letters of administration upon the 

lOO The CJiisolni Massacre, 

estate of Perry Moore, deceased, as appears upon file 
and on record in my office at DeKalb, this October 23d, 
1876. H. Rush, Clerk. 

Welsh says that Perry Moore was dead before the affi- 
davit in regard to the cotton was made, and that was 
on the 2d day of February, 1867; and yet Jordan 
Moore made affidavit, before this same George L. Welsh, 
that Perry Moore died on or about the 8th day of Feb- 
ruary, 1867. See how plain a tale will put a lying 
scoundrel down. By the records of his own court he 
stands a convicted liar. Need I say more? I would 
not trouble myself to say this much to people who 
know this Welsh; but many read the Clarion who have 
no means of knowing what reliance is to be placed in 
this fellow George L. Welsh. So I present them these 
two papers, that they may have no difficulty in deter- 

Now, upon this slandrous charge of Welsh, all the 
superstructure of persecution against me has been raised. 
Proving the foundation to 'be false, what becomes of the 
edifice ? 

This same George L. Welsh says that " he arrested 
Perry Moore's affidavit in my hands; that I admitted 
that it was a forgery; that he demanded my resignation, 
and I did resign." I congratulate Welsh in doing what 
he seldom does — stumbling upon one scrap of truth; 
for " I did resign." But that I did it upon the demand 
of George L. Welsh, or any one else, is a falsehood too 
infamous to be coined by any other than his brain, 
notoriously fruitful in such productions. When I re- 
signed my successor was appointed upon my recom- 
mendation. Where we are both known, the idea of 
George L. Welsh demanding anything at my hands will 
sound preposterous indeed. Alone and together he 
would not risk his carcass within reach of the toe of my 
boot, except he was acting the part of a cringing cur. 

''Home Rule'" in Mississippi. lOl 

Affidavits from Thos. H. Woods, District Attorney, 
and Jas. Haughley and Wm. B. Lockett, members of 
the grand jury in 1868, declare that I was indicted for 
forgery in uttering the Perry Moore affidavit. That may 
be true; but I was present at the close of that inqui- 
sition, and never heard of it. If so, it was ex parte, and 
founded, doubtless, upon the testimony of Geo. L. 
Welsh, who we see has written, and doubtless then 
swore, that Perry Moore was dead before the affidavit 
was made. Whatever the grand jury thought, if they 
ever found such a bill upon Welsh's testimony, it is now 
beyond dispute that he lied, and lied in the face of his 
own records. It is true that the records of the court 
were stolen in 1868, and that a Ku-Klux cap was found 
in the office after the thieves had departed. 

But, whether I was indicted or not, the fact remains 
that fourteen terms of the circuit court had been held m 
Kemper county since that time, and I have never been 
called to answer. 

In addition to this, I may say that this is not the hrst 
time this matter has been before the public. In 1871, 
an anonymous letter, addressed to Governor Alcorn, 
appeared in the Clarion, containing substantially the 
same charge. It was a subject of investigation by the 
Governor, but he became satisfied that it was a malicious 
slander, and subsequently appointed me to the office of 
sheriff of the county, to which position I have been twice 
elected, since that time, by the people who knew of 
Welsh's slanderous falsehoods, and knew what value to 
give them. It is true that I was expelled from the 
Masonic lodge. Welsh is a Mason, so were his coadju- 
tors. Pending the movement against me in the lodge, I 
was assured by T. C. Murphy, S. Gully and Charles Bell, 
that if I would be quiet politically, it would be all right 
in the lodge. Having been taught, even before I be- 
came an entered apprentice, that the obligations of 

102 The Chisolm Massacre. 

Freemasonry would not interfere with my religious or 
political opinions, or duty to my God, my neighbor and 
myself, I declined to yield to the demands of the " breth- 
ren," and was expelled because I was a republican, and 
forced to avow my sentiments. 

Besides showing how basely slanderous and false this 
creature Welsh is, I might introduce him in a new act, 
and cast another shadow upon his character, by showing 
his connection with county warrants in Kemper county, 
and other deeds, darker still. But at present I am only 
engaged in proving him a liar, too distinct and unequivo- 
cal for the public to regard. I may give a chapter on 
other elements of his character hereafter, if any one 
should question his business. 

Very respectfully yours, etc. 

W. W. Chisolm. 

As appears, fourteen terms of the circuit court passed, 
and although there is no bar to the statute in certain 
criminal cases, in which " forgery " is named as one, the 
indictment was never renewed, and for a very good 
reason, no doubt : The one originally found had failed 
in accomphshing the villainous work for which it was 
procured, and a further waste of time was deemed 
inadvisable. Thus vanished the second and only specific 
charge of dishonesty ever brought against Judge Chisolm 
while living. 

But we pass now to an account of treachery scarcely 
equalled in the annals of crime, and certainly an atrocity 
evincing a degree of recklessness and disregard of law 
never before attained in a community claiming to be 
governed by the dictates of common humanity. 

In the month of October, 1874. some one, in the night- 

^^ Home Rule'' in Mississippi. 103 

time, entered the room of a daughter of George Calvert, 
who Hves in the southwest Beat of Kemper county. 
The young lady awoke, in great alarm, and just in time 
as she believed, to see some one, whom she did not 
recognize, run through the door and escape before the 
family were aroused. Suspicion of this grave offense 
centered upon one of two negroes living on the place, 
but no evidence whatever, and no circumstance tending 
to strengthen this suspicion, was ever obtained, farther 
than the boy was not found at home that night ; his own 
explanation of his absence was that he had been out, as 
he had often done before, to witness a fox hunt in which 
some gentlemen were engaged not far away. Notwith- 
standing this he was taken into custody, without process 
of warrant, or any legal arrest, and carried to DeKalb, 
when the deputy sheriff, Charlie Rosenbaum, very prop- 
erly refused to take the prisoner, save only in the manner 
and form prescribed by law. 

It was believed by the leaders of this affray that an 
opportunity was now presented for carrying out a long 
cherished desire: that of murdering Judge Chisolm, and 
making it appear as the voluntary act of the whole com- 
munity. The arrest of the negro was on Saturday, and 
all that night and the next day — Sunday — couriers 
were riding to every part of the county, and even to- 
adjoining counties, in hot haste, with a lying report on 
their tongues to the effect that the negroes, headed by 
Judge Chisolm, had risen in great numbers and were then 
marching on the poor and defenseless whites, killing, 
burning and ravishing as they went ; though it never 

I04 The Chisolni Massacre. 

appeared where this march began, nor in which direction 
its desolating pathway led. Yet the " good people " 
were quick to credit any story of the kind, and, by the 
following Monday, at least five hundred armed and 
mounted men, ready for any act of villainy which, in 
their barbarity, might seem to be necessary for the " public 
safety," had assembled in the neighborhood of one J. L. 
Spinks, a justice of the peace. To further whet their 
appetites for blood, and encourage the doubting and timid 
ones, the negro boy was taken out amid the shouts and 
yells of the savage throng, and hanged to the limb of a 
tree. But, as Judge Chisolm was all the time at his 
home in DeKalb, following his legitimate business, as the 
negroes were also at work in the cotton fields throughout 
the county, this Quixotic war upon an invisible foe must 
be turned to account in the manner and form originally 
designed. The killing of one poor negro, on a campaign 
of such gigantic proportions, was a very unsatisfactory 
result, and the real object of the " race war," as this affair 
was styled in Kemper county, soon began to develop 
itself, and in the following manner : 

After consultation among the leaders it was deter- 
mined to send a note to Judge Chisolm, asking him to 
come out and aid the " good people " in suppressing the 
riot and bloodshed likely to take place, as he was well 
known to all parties, was the executive officer of the 
county, and had more influence than anybody else. 
Accordingly the note which is copied below, was sent to 
him by the hands of the following named gentlemen, as 
appears by the envelope in which it was addressed : 

''^ Home Rule'' in Mississippi. 105 

"A. McMahan, J. E. Driver and others." From this it 
would seem they were calculating on "driving" a good 
business. The writing is all in Adam Calvert's well 
known hand. The paper itself emanates from a lodge of 
peaceful an.d unoffending grangers. Here it is : 


No. 230. 
J. R. Davis, Master. J. L. Spinks, Secy. 

"Moscow, Miss., Oct. ist, 1874. 
''Judge W, W. Chisolm, DeKalb, Miss.: 

" Dear Sir : We have been requested by at least some 
two hundred persons now assembled at J. L. Spinks', 
Esq., to inform you that we are proud of the conversa- 
tion you had with Archey McMahan and A. P. Davis in 
regard to the excitement now in our Beat about the 
negroes rising in arms against the whites. We have 
additional evidence to substantiate our fears upon. We 
have arrested several negroes, and the proof is positive 
against them. We do not intend to do anything in 
violation of the law or anything without reflection. We 
intend to defend ourselves in case the negroes come 
upon us, as they say they intend to do. We insist on 
your immediate presence at J. L. Spinks', Esq., to-day, 
just as soon as you can possibly come. We assure you 
that you will be treated as a gentleman, and hope 
you will not fail to come. 

" Respectfully, your friends, 

"Adam Calvert, 
"J. L. Spinks, 
"John R. Davis." 

io6 The Chisolm Massacre, 

The names affixed to the above are those of old and 
responsible citizens. Two of them at the time were 
peace officers. With this message McMahan and Driver 
were at once dispatched to Judge Chisolm, at DeKalb. 
The fact of the communication being sent to him at all 
is in itself a proof of the hollowness of the pretense 
under which this mass of rioters had come together. 
They knew very well, before a single step had been 
taken, that Judge Chisolm was at his home; that him- 
self and the colored men of the county were as free from 
the thought of instigating riot and bloodshed as a sleep- 
ing infant. But believing their appeal to have been 
made in good faith, Judge Chisolm was about to ride 
out to the place designated, in answer to it. His 
friends, more cautious than himself, thinking a scheme 
was on foot to take his life, besought him not to go, and 
he was finally prevailed upon to heed the timely advice. 
Thus the object of the conspiracy was thwarted, and 
this " race war," began for the purpose of shedding inno- 
cent blood, failed ignominiously, save only in the hanging 
of one poor negro. 

The admonition of friends saved Judge Chisolm's 
life on this occasion, as that which follows will clearly 
prove. David Calvert — a brother of Adam Calvert — 
who married a sister of Judge Chisolm, afterward told 
his wife's family that he was cognizant of the note being 
carried to his brother-in-law on the occasion of the 
"negro hanging," near the house of Justice Spinks; that 
he knew the object for which it was delivered, and, to 
thwart the purpose of the men who sent it, and prevent 

''Home Rule'' in Mississippi. 107 

the shedding of innocent blood, he himself dispatched a 
man with a message to warn Judge Chisolm of the 
danger which awaited his arrival at the scene of the riot. 
With no further evidence than the statement of an indi- 
vidual to prove a conspiracy like this, there might be 
found room for questioning its existence; but, fortu- 
nately, whatever evidence may be needed to dispel every 
doubt in the matter, is at hand, and will be found in the 

letter which follows : 

Rio, Miss., September . 

Judge W. W. Chisolm : 

Sir : I believe there is a plan on foot to assassinate 
you. This belief is founded upon an assertion that I 
heard one William Pearse make, in the presence of four 
respectable ladies. He said that you would be taken 
out of DeKalb before next Saturday night and meet 
vvath the same fate that the negro did who was hung on 
last Saturday near here. Other remarks, similar to this, 
have been repeated to me by your friends, which I will 
not take time to mention now. 

There was an armed force of from fifty to one hundred 
men met at the grave of the hanged negro on Monday, 
to prevent the holding of an inquest. 

Your friends in this neighborhood think you would do 
well to be on your guard. 

My light is dim, and I don't see well at night. 

I will close by saying that I hope you will be on your 

The hanging of the negro was an outrage of the 
blackest character. Your friend, as ever, 

S. S. Windham. 

P. S. The excitement in the neighborhood is great. 

The above was written and sent to Judge Chisolm by 
a special messenger. Mr. Windham, its author, was an 

i<^^ The Chisolm Massacre. 

honest and kind-hearted man, although a democrat and 
a brother-in-law of Adam Calvert. His opportunities 
for knowing the facts were the very best, and his state- 
ment in writing, over his own signature, will hardly be 

The fact that he is now dead and out of the way of 
all harm, accounts for his name being given here. 


Amid all the disparaging influences by which he had 
been surrounded ; violently assailed in person and in char- 
acter; hunted at night by armed bands of ruffians; when 
leaving his home on business, compelled to go under 
cover of darkness by one route, and return secretly by 
another; branded and pointed at as one in every way 
mean and despicable. Judge Chisolm had around him an 
intelligent and refined family, consisting of wife and four 
children. Cornelia, the oldest, whose name is now a 
household word, at this date had been some two years 
at school in Meridian, a bright and joyous girl, beloved 
and admired by all who knew her. After Cornelia came 
Clay, and then Johnny, whose memory is closely 
linked with that of his beloved sister; and Willie, the 
youngest. Their home at DeKalb was a model of taste 
without, and bore the unmistakable evidences of culture 
within ; and what is better still, it was an asylum for the 
poor, without regard to color or political affiliation. 
Born and reared as they were under the ban of social 
ostracism, their society had been formed largely within 
the home circle. The want of social and friendly inter- 
course with the outside world seemed to have molded 
and endeared the family to each other. That unfailing 
perception usually accorded to woman had early enabled 
Cornelia to mark the expression of care and deep con- 
cern which, from year to year, settled upon her father's 

no The CJiisolm Massacre, 

face as the result of the daily life of hazard which he 
led, and she had thus been drawn to him by sympathy 
as well as love ; and this two-fold force, acting upon her 
naturally warm and impulsive heart, made her fondness 
for him fall but little short of devotion. Nowhere on the 
broad earth could there be found a domestic picture more 
pleasing than that presented around the hearthstone of 
the Chisolm's at DeKalb. As the Judge grew in power 
and influence, his charities were dispensed with a lavish 
hand, and these were not confined to his party friends. 
His generosity developed with his means, and, shocking 
as it is to humanity, scores of the hands which for years 
had taken food from his board, on that fatal and dark 
Sabbath were raised against himself and lovely children, 
and were among the first to strike them foully to the 

But for the present a casual glimpse of this picture 
must suffice. We have yet a long way to follow the 
unbroken chain of circumstances woven around the 
doomed man and his party adherents, gathering strength 
with the growth of years, and culminating at last in a 
crime not equalled even in the dark days of the reign of 
the bloody Robespierre, and ending with as complete an 
overthrow of every principle of law and right as ever 
marked the passage of that bloody era in the history of 
unhappy France. The story of the political contest 
of 1875 in Mississippi has never been told. The acts of 
tyranny and savage cruelty, the false swearing and utter 
disregard and desecration of the most sacred mandates 
of God and man, as yet are only recorded in the hearts 

^^Home Rule'' in Mississippi, in 

and memories of those who were made to suffer most; 
and its horrors will not be recalled here, excepting so far 
as they may have direct bearing upon the persons and 
objects discussed in these pages. 

Guided by the firm hand and unconquerable will of 
one man, the county of Kemper, for a succession of years, 
had stood the tide of hatred engendered by secession 
and nursed by the overthrow of the " Divine Institution" 
and the final elevation of the late slave to citizenship 
and equal rights under the law, and that stronghold of 
" radicalism " became an object of special attention by 
the white-line democracy all over the State. If the pro- 
gramme of intimidation, fraud and violence which had 
been decided upon in their State councils could be made 
to win in Kemper, then the first rays of the morning sun 
of the day following the election in November of 1875 
would fall upon a State " redeemed." To this end the 
barbed shafts of the best orators of the State were 
turned upon this republican Thermopylae, while the 
native bulldozers were untiring and persistent in their 
watchfulness and zeal. 

A few weeks preceding the election the "great and 
gifted " Lamar delivered an address at Aberdeen, which 
the Vicksburg Herald^ a leading democratic paper, com- 
mented upon as follows : " At Aberdeen, last Saturday, 
Colonel Lamar made an eloquent speech. A better 
democratic speech we do not care to listen to; and in 
manly and ringing tones he declared that the contest 
involved ' the supremacy of the unconquered and uncon- 
querable Saxon race.' We were glad to hear this bold 

1 1 2 TJie CJiisolni Massacre. 

and manly avowal, and it was greeted with deafening" 
plaudits. We have never seen men more terribly in 
earnest, and the democratic white-line speech made to 
them by Colonel Lamar aroused them to white heat." 
■5r -5^ * * -5^ jj^ another place the same paper makes 
use of the following language, which is calculated to 
serve well in connection with " Lamar's great speech : "" 
" The wanton killing of a few poor negroes is something 
unworthy of our people. If the killing of anybody is 
necessary, we repeat what we have heretofore said : 
' Let the poor negro pass, and let the white scoundrels 
who have fired his heart with evil passions be the only 
sufferers.' " The utterances above quoted were repeated, 
verbatim, by Lamar at Scooba, in Kemper county, a few 
days after; the only difference being that stronger 
language was used in that immediate connection, and 
the name of Judge Chisolm given as being the only man 
within the county whose power and influence stood in the 
way of the realization of their cherished hopes ; and the 
people of Kemper were enjoined by this great statesman 
to carry the county, " peacefully if they could, forcibly if 
they must !" 

The Saturday before the election took place. Prof. 
Thomas S. Gathright, for many years one of the most 
influential and popular educators of the youth of the 
State, made a speech at DeKalb, within sight of Judge 
Chisnlm's Louse, in which he used words very nearly as 
follows. After repeating Judge Chisolm's name, he said: 
'* Gentlemen, if you ever expect to have peace and har- 
mony in your county, you must get rid of this man. I 

''Home Rule'' in Mississippi. 113 

will not undertake to tell you hoiv to get rid of him ; 
that you know as well as I, but you must get rid of him /" 
Then, encircling his neck with a gesture, he raised his 
hand up and down several times in imitation of dangling 
some object from the end of a rope. This speech and 
pantomime were responded to with loud and continued 

On the following Monday the same language was 
repeated at Moscow, a cross-roads store, ten miles 
distant from DeKalb. 

The fact that hundreds of such harangues were made 
all over the State, pointing out individuals, and republi- 
cans indiscriminately, by local politicians and lawyers, 
lank, lean and hungry as most of them were, without 
character or responsibility, signified but little. But when 
such poisonous words fell upon the ears of an ignorant 
populace, direct from the lips of men like Gathright 
and Lamar, terrible consequences might be expected to 
follow. The natural result of this teaching upon a 
systematically organized body of men, sufficient in 
numbers when backed by the moral support of a whole 
people, to carry out and enforce whatever edict or dogma 
might take possession of their wicked hearts, was seen 
all over the State during that memorable canvass, but in 
no part was its influence felt more keenly than in Kemper 
county. To clearly illustrate its effects the testimony of 
John P. Gilmer, before the investigating committee, is 
given. On page 497 of the official report will be found 
the following : 

"John P. Gilmer, sworn and examined by Mr. Teller." 

114 ^^^^ CJdsolm Massacre. 

'■'Question, — Where do you reside?" 

'' Answer. — I reside in Scooba, Kemper county, Missis- 

''Question. — How long have you resided in Missis- 

Anszuer. — I went in December, 1868, to Scooba, and I 
have since lived there and at DeKalb. I was born in 
Georgia, raised in Alabama and have been in Mississippi 
since 1868. Have only lived in these three States. I 
was a Confederate soldier, and was in the political cam- 
paign of 1875 in Mississippi; was in several counties 
during the time. I then represented the district that my 
county is in, in the State Senate. I was a candidate for 
re-election. There are three counties in the district — 
Noxubee, Neshoba and Kemper. I canvassed Kemper 
county only ; did not engage in the campaign when it 
was opened. At the time the republicans held their 
convention I was in St. Louis. They nominated their 
candidates for representative and county officers, but, for 
some reason, did not make any nomination for State 
Senator, and held a convention for that purpose after I 
returned. I had decided not to be a candidate for 
re-election. However, after being nominated, I concluded 
to go into the campaign. It was then about half com- 
pleted. I made several speeches at Scooba, Wahalak, 
DeKalb and two or three other places. So far as the 
campaign was conducted, on both sides, there was con- 
siderable feeling. Large numbers of democrats attended 
the republican meetings, which was something unusual 
for them, and the speakers were generally interrupted 

^^ Home Rule'' in Mississippi, 115 

with questions in various ways. So far as my individual 
recollection is concerned I do not think I was ever inter- 
rupted at all, on the stand, while attempting to make a 
speech. At some places reports would come to us that 
we could not have meetings ; that we were going to be 
interfered with during the time of speaking ; but the real 
excitement that amounted to anything seemed to be 
about the latter days of the campaign ; that is, when I 
was present, at Scooba, Wahalak and DeKalb. We 
closed the campaign with public speaking, at Scooba, the 
Saturday before the election, which was held on Tuesday. 

By Mr. Money. 

Question. — " On Saturday ? " 

Answer. — "On Friday or Saturday; I will not be 
positive about the date. There was a gentleman up 
there, and I do not remember his name, from Enterprise. 
He had succeeded in getting a large portion of the 
colored element, and a great many white people, who 
were in there, and he was making a very bitter, and as I 
thought, a very incendiary speech. There had been 
threats made to me prior to that, in Scooba, by leading 
men, in this way: ' Next Tuesday, or the first Tuesday 
in November, your sort will go up, and you will have no 
longer any influence in Kemper county;' and even in 
terms worse than that, but I did not pay much attention 
to it. As there seemed to be some excitement that day, 
I went into the office of the mayor, Mr. Wood. There 
were present myself. Judge Chisolm, Mr. Miller and Mr. 
Duke. These threats had been made to me prior to 
that. They said : ' You shall not, as you have done 

Ii6 The Chisolm Massacre. 

heretofore, put the tickets into the hands of the negro 
and make him vote your way.' We were there con- 
sulting about the manner in which the election should 
be held. Judge Chisolm and I made the proposition to 
Messrs. Duke, Miller, Jones, and Wood, the mayor of 
the town, that we never had been guilty of these 
charges, and we had never forced anybody to vote any 
way except according to his own conscience, and we 
were perfectly willing to let it be understood by both 
sides that the democrats could electioneer as much as 
they pleased; but we would put tickets in some place 
where it could be understood that republican tickets 
could be had ; and all parties who wanted to go and get 
a ticket, whether republican or democrat, could get them, 
and nobody should interfere with or talk to them at all, 
but just let them go about and vote as they pleased ; 
and that on the day of the election we would have no 
canvassing whatever, and not try to influence a single 
vote. Mr. Wood was disposed to agree to that, but Mr. 
Duke would not. They were democrats. Mr. Duke said 
he proposed to canvass as much as he pleased. Mr. Jones 
said he did not intend that there should be tickets taken 
away from the negroes, and they cursed for having voted 
the democratic ticket, as had been done before — or as I 
had done, rather. I said, ' Mr. Jones, if you say I ever 
cursed any one or forced any body to vote any way but 
according to their own conscience, it is not so!' He 
said, 'That is the report all over the county.' I said 
'That the report all over the county then, is a d — d lie, 
and the author of it is a liar!' At that time Mr. 

''Home Rule'' in Mississippi. wj 

Dunlap, the marshal, came in and said there was great 
excitement out on the street, and he wanted the poHce 
force of the town increased. Then I left and came 
around to the rear end of the store that myself and 
brother were occupying, and we got some goods boxes 
and assembled a big crowd and had some three or four 
speeches. While the speakers were interrupted occa- 
sionally, I did not see any excitement at the time; but 
during that evening and the Sunday following there 
were colored men who came to me, and some white men, 
too, democrats, and told me, in a confidential way, that 
they did not want their names exposed, lest it should 
result in their injury; but that efforts would be made to 
assassinate myself and Judge Chisolm, the leading 
republicans, on the day of the election ; that Alabamians 
would be over there, and that on Monday night they 
would have torchlight processions, and that they in- 
tended to assassinate us. Mr. Orr, one of the managers 
of the election, told me : * There is no use in talking ! I 
am afraid to hold the election.'" 

"■Question. — Was he a democrat or a republican?" 
''Answer. — He was a republican. Mr. Orr was a 
white man. He sent word to my room, late on 
Sunday night, that he had just been up to see his sister — 
whose husband was a democrat — near Wahalak station, 
that day ; that she had sent for him to be sure to come 
there; that it was very important that he should go 
there. His sister had informed him that she had heard, 
from her democratic friends, what would be done with 
himself and other leading republicans there, and advised 

Ii8 The Chisolm Massacre. 

him not to remain in Scooba, but to leave until after the 
election, and have nothing to do with it. He seemed 
very much alarmed. I knew there were good grounds 
for being alarmed, but I did not know it was so bad. I 
informed him that I did not think there would be much 
trouble; that nobody would bother him; that these 
reports might be put out for the purpose of scaring 
him. That night there were couriers coming in from the 
country and telling me of threats they had heard, and 
asking if we could not get assistance in the way of 
United States troops. They said that night-riders had 
shot into the houses of the colored people, and there 
were rrien traveling over the country at all hours of the 
night. On Saturday and even Friday night previous to 
this, I saw men coming in with guns. On Monday 
morning these men were in the streets. There was a 
crowd, and appeared to be great excitement. As I 
walked down the street to my store, I heard curses of 

' the radical party,' and ' the 

United States government,' and threats that, 'We ought 

to hang them, them,' to a great extent all 

along the streets. They were all white men and demo- 
crats, whom I heard make these threats. I had been 
sent for by a personal friend, who was a democrat, and he 
informed me that my life would be in danger, and that 
in a very short time there would be a lot of Alabamians 
over there, armed, coming for the purpose of assassina- 
ting me ; that, perhaps, they would go on to DeKalb and 
assassinate Judge Chisolm and other leading republi- 
cans. I left for DeKalb ;" was advised by this friend to 

''Home Rule'' in Mississippi. 119 

go there, and take a by-way, and not the main road. I 
started, knowing the country pretty well, and took trails 
winding about a way I did not think was traveled 
very often, except by deer and other wild animals of the 
forest. I saw at the roads, as I would approach them 
at the forks, that there were guards stationed, and men on 
horse-back with guns. I got to the house of a man 
living some six or seven miles from DeKalb, who I did 
not think had much interest in politics. I had befriended 
him on occasions, and I thought he would be a friend of 
mine. I called for some water, intending to talk with 
him. Said he, 'Gilmer, what is all this excitement for?' 
I said, ' I do not know, I am nearly famished for water, 
I do not see any men about.' I wanted him to tell me 
if there was any trouble, first. He said, 'yes, there is a 
young man who just left here, and several parties have 
passed my house with guns. Young Mr. Overstreet 
just left here; he came for my gun, and I refused to let 
him have it. He said the negroes were fighting in 
DeKalb, and that Judge Chisolm was at the head of it, 
and the people were hurrying on to Sucarnochee bridge,' 
a crossing about two miles from DeKalb, and he said to 
me, * Gilmer, if you go there, you will be killed.' I 
replied that I guessed not. He said, 'I will just swear 
that you will be killed ; but don't say a word that I told 
you.' I said, 'I want to get to DeKalb; can I get there 
without going the road?' He says, 'yes, but there are 
guards along the road every mile, and you cannot go in 
that way to DeKalb without being assassinated.' I 
said, 'You do not think they would shoot me down 

120 The Chisolin Massacre. 

without giving me some showing, do you?' He said, 
'yes, I do not think they would say a single word to 
you. That is the programme ; not to open their mouths 
at all, but just shoot you and Chisolm on sight.' I said, 
' Well, then I should like to get you to pilot me through 
the woods.' He said, ' I will go and show you about a 
quarter or half a mile, and after that will show you a 
road in which you will be safe.' We started, knd when 
about a quarter of a mile he got scared, seemed to be 
very much excited, and wanted to go back and get his 
gun. I waited for him. He told me that I had better 
leave my horse and take through the woods by myself. 
He went back, got his gun, and then said, ' I will go 
with you a quarter of a mile further, and perhaps you 
can make your way all right.' I insisted upon his going 
with me, and finally gave him fifty dollars to go. This 
gentleman conducted me some four or five miles through 
the woods to within about two or three miles of DeKalb. 
After crossing the creek I came upon a colored man and 
his wife picking cotton; I did not know them, but they 
knew me. The gentleman who piloted me absolutely 
refused to go any farther. I asked the colored man to 
go with me; he consented, and piloted me through 
the woods to the town. Not very long afterwards his 
wife told me that I had scarcely got out of sight when ■ 
two parties rode up, with double-barrel guns, inquiring 
if I had passed that way ; they said I was somewhere 
in the woods trying to make my way to DeKalb. I 
took the precaution, before leaving, to tell her if any one 
came and inquired for me to say that I had not been 

''Home Rule'' in Mississippi, 121 

there, and she says that she so answered. I got into 
DeKalb and found considerable excitement there; did 
not go down the streets, but was nearly there when I 
met some of my friends, and found that a lying report 
had been put out about me. I had recently been to 
Jackson, and found that the story had been started that 
I had shipped arms to Shuqualak and to Scooba by 
rail, and, in addition, that I had brought a trunk 
from Jackson, heavily laden, supposed to contain amu- 
nition; also, that a wagon-load of arms had gone 
through the country to DeKalb from Jackson, for the 
purpose of arming the negroes, and, beside, we had 
shipped about forty barrels of whisky, which they 
claimed to be an unusual amount for that little town, 
and it was for the purpose of making the negroes drunk 
before attacking the whites. I was informed of this by 
republican friends. I asked for the informant, and they 
referred me to Capt. James Watts and E. G. Ellis, both 
lawyers and democrats. My friends said they had obtained 
their information from Watts and Ellis, and that the 
latter were talking about moving their families out 
of town to get them away from any trouble which might 
arise on account of a riot gotten up by the radical 
party. I asked Watts and Ellis if they believed any 
such thing. They answered that they did not think 
such a thing of me before, but that this report came 
from a very reliable source. My understanding was, 
they told me that Mr. Duke wrote the letter giving 
them the information. There was no truth in the report 
about the arms. If I had shipped those guns at either 

122 The Chisolni Massacre, 

place, by freight or express, or sent a package, the agents 
at each of those depots were democrats and white men, 
and they would have known it. There was no excuse 
for the story and no truth in it. I would not have gone 
to the woods if it had not been for safety. Before going 
there was some excitement about holding the election. 
Mr. Brittain, Mr. Welsh, Dr. Fox, Mr. Ellis and myself, 
and some republicans, were in the conversation. These 
first were democrats. They told me that if the election 
was held at Scooba, the managers would not be interfered 
with. I told them that if they would write to their 
leading men to give these parties protection, I would 
write such a letter to Mr. Orr, one of the republican 
managers. I wrote the letter and then went into the 
woods. We staid there — Judge Chisolm, Mr. Rosen- 
baum, Mr. Hopper, myself and two or three others — for 
several days. We returned, either the first or second 
morning after the election, to our private residences, and 
did not go down town. I do not think there were more 
than three or four republican votes cast at DeKalb, a 
precinct which constituted a whole board of supervisors ; 
and the colored majority there was at least a hundred, 
and perhaps more. Many whites vote the republican 
ticket when they can, and the democrats voted about the 
usual number." 

This testimony is fully corroborated by that of Judge 
Chisolm, taken before the Boutwell Committee, in Jack- 
son, but a few months before. 

The campaign of 1875 resulted in the complete over- 
throw of every principle of republicanism in the State, 

"•Home Rule'' in Mississippi, 123 

and republican officials whose term of office had not 
expired, were unrelentingly pursued ; for it seemed to be 
a part of the plan to drive them from citizenship as well 
as place. Governor Ames himself was finally compelled 
to yield to the edicts of a white-line legislature as radical, 
proscriptive and tyranical in the exercise of its power as 
the most unvv^arranted dictations of the Paris Commune. 
By his forced resignation, the democratic president of 
the senate /r^ tempore — J. M. Stone — became governor. 

But the excitement and high blood which had been 
aroused in this revolution was not allowed to cool before 
the canvass of 1876 was begun. This, as in the case 
of the preceding year, is not made use of only so far as 
its history has direct influence upon the subject under 

In the fall of 1876 members of congress from the 
various districts were to be elected, and while republi- 
cans had no hope of success, candidates for that office 
were put in the field, so that it could not be said 
they had meanly submitted without a second trial, and 
Judge Chisolm received the nomination of the party for 
the district in which he lived. 

In June of this year Cornelia Chisolm, at the age of 
eighteen, graduated with the highest honors of her class 
in the East Mississippi Female College, situated at 
Meridian. In music and art she was especially profi- 
cient, receiving tne highest mark for excellence in these 
branches which the institution and an admiring public 
could bestow. But the training received at school did 
not go far in making up the real worth of her accom- 

^^4 The Chisolm Massacre, 

plishments. Possessed of intelligence and judgment 
beyond her years, no opportunity for the acquirement of 
useful knowledge was allowed to go unimproved, and her 
mmd was thus stored with a fund of practical informa- 
tion seldom attained by one of her years, no matter what 
advantages of wealth and position they may have had. 
Upon all the topics of the day, especially that of politics, 
in which her father took such a deep interest, and in the 
advocacy of which she knew his life had been so many 
times involved, she always manifested a concern equal to 
the importance of the subject, and few men or women, 
either in private or public life, are better informed upon 
those national questions which for the past ten years 
have agitated the public mind, than was this young girl. 
Thus fitted for a useful and happy life, and full of 
hope for the future, she returned to DeKalb, where, in 
the Chisolm household and the hearts of the few 
associates found in the neighborhood, she was at once 
coronated queen of love and beauty. 


Owing to violence and repeated threats of violence, 
there was no organized effort on the part of republicans 
to carry the county of Kemper in 1876; and this is true 
of a large majority of counties in the State. 

The very atmosphere was filled with a spirit of hos- 
tility toward the national administration and the friends 
of republicanism everywhere, so perceptible and even 
appalling in its nature as to terrify the oldest and 
stanchest members of the party, and the men who had 
always been found in the front rank, themselves and 
their families ostracised and struck from the pale of good 
society — so called; branded and pointed at as felons 
and penitentiary convicts; assaulted, wounded and 
maimed ; men of character, resolute and brave ; in most 
cases in the canvass of that year failed to come forward 
and attempt an organization of the party, however slight 
and imperfect, and but little effort outside of the execu- 
tive committee at Jackson was ever made to carry the 
State; while the colored voters slunk back into their 
cabins, voiceless and breathless, only too glad to evade, 
by such a course, the visits of midnight raiders, in black 
masks, armed with guns and whips. So effectual had 
been the reign of terror established over them that it 
was a common remark, whenever an opportunity pre- 
sented for expressing themselves to a white friend and 
sympathizer, that, in the days of slavery their moneyed 

^^6 The Chisohn Massacre, 

value was an assurance of protection to life, at least; 
but under the existing state of affairs that safeguard 
had been withdrawn, and there remained absolutely 
no guarantee whatever of life or liberty. Hence in 
Kemper, as in other counties, there were no clubs 
formed, and no meetings, of any kind, in the interest of 
republicanism were held. There was but one speech 
made m the county by members of that party during 
the whole canvass. Sometime in July, before the cam- 
paign had fairly opened in Mississippi, and before Judge 
Chisolm had become a candidate for Congress, while on 
a casual visit to Scooba, he ^^'as invited by the democracy 
there to make a speech, indulging the fond hope, as is 
believed their leaders did, that he would now abandon 
the cause of republicanism, then on the eve of entire dis- 
solution, and become a bulwark of strength in building 
up the party of "home rule." But in the dark days of 
its adversity, as in the years of its prosperity, Judge 
Chisolm stood like a great rock, true to his party 
and colors. His speech in Scooba that day was ortho- 
dox to the core; but he was listened to respectfully 
throughout. This act of courtesy seems to have been 
performed for a purpose, as subsequent events will 
show. Some two weeks following this without his 
knowledge or consent. Judge Chisolm was advertised, 
by means of posters put up in public places, to hold a 
"joint discussion," at Scooba, on a day set, with some 
orator named. Believing, from the treatment before 
received, that a spirit of fair play had seized upon the 
democratic heart and conscience, the Judge reluctantly 

''Ho7ne Rule'' in Mississippi. 127 

consented. Immediately upon his arrival in Scooba 
he was quietly informed by friends that the feeling 
against him was bitter, and if he undertook to speak 
his life wonld be endangered. It is well understood by 
all who knew Judge Chisolm that he was not a man to 
be frightened with a shadow. If there was danger he 
must test and know the fact. Accordingly, the condi- 
tion of an equal division of time was faithfully agreed 
upon. At the Judge's solicitation a large number of 
colored men were kept together for hours while three or 
four democratic orators harangued them. After the 
fiery eloqence of the democracy had ceased to bum, 
Judge Chisolm got up and quietly intimated that inas- 
much as he had been invited there to " take part in a 
joint discussion," he should now be permitted to speak. 
Just at this time the gentleman in front of whose store 
the crowd had been standing, was impressed with the 
melancholy fact that the passage-way to his door w^as 
obstructed, and in consequence no more speaking could 
be allowed at that stand. But removing to a place near 
by, the Judge undertook the hazardous part which he 
was to bear in the "joint discussion." As predicted, 
he had spoken but a few minutes when he was 
interrupted, in a most violent and threatening manner, 
and curses, loud and deep, were heaped upon his head 
from every quarter. His life was threatened, and pistols 
were drawn to carry the threat into execution. After 
repeated efforts to quiet the mob, he was compelled to 
quit the stand in order to save his life. 

Thus the campaign opened. But we will not attempt 

128 The Chisolm Massacre, 

to follow Judge Chisolm through all the devious windings 
of that eventful canvass. Its history, like that of the 
preceding year, is yet to be written. 

As the election drew near, Judge Chisolm's appoint- 
ments brought him closer to DeKalb. The last before 
reaching home was on the 3d of November, at Scooba, 
to which place it was understood he would go from 
Macon by rail, and a large crowd had assembled to 
receive him. Before leaving Macon, however, he had 
been urged not to gp ; if he did, it was said, he would 
certainly be mobbed and probably killed; that the 
" reformers," in force, maddened with bad whisky, headed 
by a band of desperadoes from Alabama, were in waiting 
for him, and nothing short of his blood would appease 
their appetites. Heeding the timely warning, the con- 
templated visit to Scooba was abandoned, and Judge 
Chisolm went across the country, that day, to DeKalb. 
Whether he acted wisely in so doing or not, is best 
shown by the conduct of the mob in Scooba when the 
train arrived on which it was hoped and believed he 
would come. Filled to excess with the democratic "elixir 
of life," armed with guns and pistols, bloated and red- 
eyed, with yells and imprecations which might shame the 
most hardened denizens of the regions of the damned, 
they rushed in a body to the station to " welcome " the 
expected speaker. The disappointment at not seeing 
him only increased their fury and hate. As soon as it 
was known that Judge Chisolm had gone overland to 
DeKalb, where he was advertised to speak on the follow- 
ing day, the mob, with increased numbers, at once set 

''Home Rule'' in Mississippi. 129 

out for that place, taking with them a cannon, shot-guns, 
pistols and plenty of liquor, and all other equipments 
necessary to the safe and sure conduct of a campaign on 
the " Mississippi plan." 

Arriving in DeKalb, that night, they moved stealthily 
to within fifteen paces of Judge Chisolm's door, just as 
his children were in the act of going to bed. The first 
warning the family had of the approach or intent of this 
band of outlaws, was the discharge of the cannon, which 
shook the glass from the windows of the house, and this 
was followed by the discharge of small arms, accom- 
panied by continued beating of drums and yells of 
besotted men, who repeatedly called upon Judge Chis-^ 
olm and the ladies of his household, to "get up and 
listen to the music," demanding that they should 
acknowledge the compliment of the serenade. These 
acts of barbarism were kept up around Judge Chisolm's 
home until two o'clock in the morning, and before noon 
of the same day the assault was renewed in a much 
more violent and threatening manner. Quite early, 
loaded shot-guns were carried into the jail building 
immediately in front of the Judge's premises, ready for 
use by the m.ob at any time, while the crowd, which had 
already assembled in large force, carried small arms which 
were frequently brandished and discharged in the air. 
About nine o'clock a note was handed Judge Chisolm 
by A. G. Vincent, over the signature of John W. Gully, 
" chairman of the democratic executive committee of the 
county," inviting the Judge to take part in another 
"joint discussion." He replied that the meeting, if one 


130 The Chisolni Massacre, 

was held, was his own ; that it was so advertised, and 
democrats had no right whatever to a division of time. 
He stated, further, that he believed it to be exceedingly 
dangerous for him to leave his house, and much more so 
to undertake a republican speech in DeKalb that day, as 
information had already reached him from the streets, 
that his life had been openly threatened. Mr. Vincent, 
although a fierce democrat, had the fairness to 
acknowledge to Judge Chisolm, afterward, that he acted 
wisely in refusing to accept this challenge. By this time 
the " citizens " had assembled to the number of three 
hundred or more ; many of them uniformed with red 
shirts. Beating of drums, shooting and yelling was now 
the order of the day. The name of Chisolm was 

mingled with their curses and cries of " hang the 

radical scoundrel ! " were heard by his wife and children 
at home. All day long, on that memorable fourth of 
November, was kept up a scene of drunkenness, debauch 
and riot which baffles description. A prisoner from the 
county jail named Spencer — being a good democrat — 
charged with waylaying and shooting in cold blood a 
young man just married, and at the time riding by the 
side of his young wife, was released from confinement 
and gave eclat to the festivities by joining the mob and 
shouting lustily for " Tilden and reform ! " Repeatedly 
throughout the day, did this crowd of ruffians and jail- 
birds march by Judge Chisolm's door, to the tune of 
" Dixie " and the " Bonnie Blue Flag," firing cannon at 
intervals and pistols by volleys. The latter were at first 
discharged upward, but as the crowd became emboldened 

'^ Home Rule'' in Mississippi. 131 

from the excessive use of liquor, and meeting with no 
resistance, the shooting was directed over the house and 
finally against it, when two or three shots were embedded 
in the pillars and weather-boarding. These chivalrous 
gentlemen, who could thus surround, menace and assault 
a house occupied by women and children, breathing in 
their faces the fumes of the pot-house, and hurling 
upon their heads obscene and blasphemous oaths, were 
headed by no greater man than Colonel S. M. Meek, 
of Columbus, one of, " Mississippi's favorite sons. ' A 
Chevalier Bayard; a man who must hide beneath the black 
cloth and clean linen that he wears, a cowardly and 
craven heart. Close by the side of this beau ideal of 
southern chivalry, walked John W. Gully, the presiding 
genius of the demoniac festival. 

For the purpose of throwing additional light upon 
this subject, a letter written by Cornelia Chisolm but a 
few days after these occurrences, is here appended. 
Little did this brave girl, whose sensitive heart then 
bleeding afresh from the wounds just inflicted upon her- 
self and other members of the family, by the insults of 
a brutal and mendacious mob, think that this communi- 
cation would ever find its way into a work of this kind, 
thereby adding a strong link to the chain of evidence 
showing the outrages practiced upon her beloved father 
during the progress of the canvass of that year. Its 
candor, frankness and depth of feeling — written to a 
private individual, and as it must have been for no other 
purpose than that of giving temporary relief to an over- 
burdened heart — give it the weight of a whole volume 

132 The Chisolni Massacre. 

of testimony derived from any other source. Here is 
the letter: 

DeKalb, November 13th, 1876. 
My very dear friend : 

In your kind letter, which came this evening, the con- 
tents of which I know are from the depths of your dear, 
loving heart, you ask me to tell you " all " concerning the 
late terrible assault upon our house by a band of 
drunken and riotous men. Now my dear , I am go- 
ing to relate, as nearly as I can, the details of at least a 
part of the wrongs and indignities which our family have 
endured, and which wounded me much deeper, being 
aimed, as they were, at the one who is dearer to me than 
almost all else on earth beside — my darling father. 
These repeated insults to papa and his household came 
from the fact that he chose to be guided in his political 
acts by that which, in his heart of hearts and own good 
judgment, he deemed to be right — loyalty to his 
country and its flag. 

Pardon me if I speak too strongly, and remember 
what has driven me to this. When papa received the 
nomination for Congress in his district we entreated him 
not to accept it, as defeat was certain, under the present 
administration of the laws of the State, which allows 
mobs of armed men to force the voters from the ballot- 
box and drive them from . their homes ; and, what is 
much worse, we knew his life would be in jeopardy every 
hour. Notwithstanding our appeals he accepted the 
nomination, and said he was determined to canvass 
the district, as he deemed it his duty to do. He had 
large audiences everywhere he went, and not only invited 
but insisted on his opponent meeting him at all his 
appointments and arrange for a joint discussion. Mr. 
Money — the opposing candidate — met him at only one 
place, and he forgot that decency required of him at 

^'Hoine Rule'' in Mississippi, 133 

least civil treatment toward a stranger, but instead 
procured the sei vices of a band of music, and a large 
crowd of men, in battle array, uniformed with red shirts, 
armed with guns, swords and pistols, to heap insult 
after insult upon papa. When papa got up to speak 
two men were stationed on the stand behind him, dis- 
playing dirk knives and pistols. Papa then gave his 
opinion of such proceedings, and told them that he 
would not speak unless the stand was moved against 
the house, and all bullies put in front, where he could 
watch them, giving as a reason that he did not want to 
be stabbed in the back. They did as he requested ; but 
when he began they commenced screaming and hallooing 
so loud that no one could hear him, and he was finally 
compelled to quit the stand. 

A committee then came to insist that he continue his 
speech. He reluctantly consented; but had no sooner 
started again than they repeated their interruptions. 

It was just the same everywhere he went. In Macon 
he was obliged to divide time with a democratic negro — 
Younger — in order to be allowed to speak at all. He 
had a good many friends there; but at most of the 
places he had no acquaintances even. He was to speak 
an hour and a half at Macon and the negro the same 
length of time ; then papa to have half an hour in which 
to rejoin. Two of papa's friends overheard the demo- 
crats talking among themselves, and found that their 
plan was to kill him when he undertook to reply. These 
friends sent papa a note to that effect while he was on the 
stand, and he left just before the negro finished speaking. 
Another one of their committees went to his room to 
urge him to reply, but he sent them word that he would 
have no more to say. 

In Shuqualak he did not speak at all, because he 
received intelligence convincing him, beyond any ques- 

134 '^^^^ Cliisolni Massacre, 

tion, that if he undertook to do so he would be shot 
down from the stand. 

He had an appointment at Scooba, but didn't even go 
there; for his friends, and enemies also, said that he 
would no sooner get off the train at that place than he 
would be shot by a crowd of Alabamians, who had 
come there for the purpose, at the instance of the editor 
of that vulgar and indecent paper, published in your 
place, the Meridian Mercury. 

But now comes the " tug." The wretches hired the 
Gainesville band to come here, only to insult our family. 
On Friday night, just as we were all undressed for bed, 
and some of the family had already lain down, they 
marched up to our gate with a great crowd, " serenading," 
as they said, and nearly frightened me to death. You 
see I was then only just being initiated; others of our 
family had often seen the like when I was away at 
school. They brought the old cannon right in front of 
the door, and I devoutly prayed that it might burst and 
blow them all into the " fiery furnace," where I am certain 
they will eventually land. 

Well, they left after finding how little they had 
accomplished; got some more men and whisky and 
came back about twelve o'clock at night and tried it 
over again. But all the family had to console and 
comfort me. I tell you I thought I should die. I hardly 
slept one bit all night. By the next morning at day- 
light papa's friends came in trom all parts of the county, 
including four gentlemen from Macon. They were all at 
our house — about fifteen good, true white republicans, 
who swore they would die by their leader and best 

There were hundreds of negroes in town, and nothing 
but papa's constant and vigilant efforts kept them from 
firing upon the bloodthirsty demons as they passed by 

^'- Home Rule''' in Mississippi. 135 

on their march. They had the democratic flag, the band 
— playing "Dixie" and the "Bonnie Blue Flag" — a few 
ragged, old negroes and hundreds of villainous white 
scoundrels, half of whom were owing papa for the clothes 
that covered their backs. He stood on the steps and 
cursed them in language more forcible that elegant. The 
first time they yelled and screamed like the savages they 
were, and one man shot off a pistol in the air. The 
next time two or three fired, and a few more each time they 
passed, until the shooting became incessant, and several 
shots struck the wall, just by the door. At this time 
nearly all the gentlemen who had been with us were 
over at Mr. Gilmer's and Captain Rush's, to get Mrs. 
Gilmer and her baby, and Mrs. Rush and her daughter, 
to come to our house, as all of them had been insulted 
and frightened nearly to death, while their men folks 
were with us. 

Several of the gentlemen were worn out, or crippled, 
in the canvass, and so you see papa and brother were 
about the only ones who could shoot to do any good, 
and but for mamma's entreaties, they would have made 
some of the beggarly dogs bite the dust. 

I kept close to papa's side all day, and when he told 
me that, if another shot was fired, he intended to kill 
some of them, he begged me to leave him, because those 
who did not run would fire at him, and he feared some 
of the shots might hit me. I told him that I prayed 
the same shot which killed him might also lay my life- 
less body by his side. My dear , I once thought 

that I never would tire of life ; but, if such is to be mine, 
death, if I could share it Avith my dear ones, would indeed 
be a sweet relief. 

Colonel Meek and John Gully headed the procession. 
At one time Meek passed by with his arms around the 
neck of a ragged, filth}^ and degraded negro. I call him 
" degraded " not because of his black skin, but rather for 

136 The CJiisolni Massacre. 

being found in such company, exchanging embraces with 
so low and disgusting a being as Meek that day proved 
himself to be. Next to Meek and the negro came "Bill" 
Preston. I shudder at the thought of desecrating these 
pages with the name — a young gentleman (?) of your 

I have now given you some of the details of the 
insults we have received. When I see you I will say more, 
and, like the Queen of Sheba, who came to visit Solo- 
mon, you will exclaim : "The half has not been told me !" 
Again begging your pardon for having spoken, as I fear, 
too bitterly, but asking you to consider what we have 
all endured, with much love, I remain your friend, 


The following is the sworn testimony of Judge Chis- 
olm touching this same matter. It will be found on 
page 755 of the congressional report of last winter: 
''Question. — Did you have any further meeting?" 
''Anszver. — Yes, sir; I had a meeting advertised at 
Scooba. Rosenbaum went home the night before and 
wrote me that I had better not come there, and advised 
me to go through the country to my home ; believing, as 
he said, there would be a crowd of Alabamians there, 
and that it would be dangerous for me to go to Scooba. 
I took a carriage and went through the country to 
DeKalb. I arrived Friday evening, about half an hour 
before sun-down. That night, about ten o'clock, there 
came a crowd of men right in front of my gate. I sup- 
pose they were within twenty paces of the house; they 
had with them a band of music from Gainesville, Ala- 
bama, and they played and shot off their cannon and 
small arms, cursed, and asked me to 'come out.' My 

^' Home Rule'' in Mississippi. i^'j 

appointment to speak in DeKalb was on the following 
day. That is where I live. They returned about one 
o'clock that night, and went through the same demon- 
strations. The next morning there came in a good many 
of my white friends of the county — there is a right 
smart white republican vote there — a good many want- 
ing to see me, and I not being down town, they came 
up to my house. It was tolerably early — I suppose ten 
o'clock — when I got a communication from Swanzy, and 
from J. W. Gully and some others whose names I forget. 
They signed themselves, * by authority of the democratic 
executive committee.' I received this from the hands of 
a man named A. G. Vincent. I read it and said, ' Mr. 
Vincent do you think that I would be allowed to make 
a speech here to-day?' He said he did not think I 
would; or, perhaps, I could; I don't remember just what 
his answer was. I continued, ' I understand from a 
hundred sources that they will not let me speak, and I 
won't answer this note.' He asked me, 'why?' Said I, 
* this carries a lie on its face. It sets out by stating it is 
a democratic meeting, when you know that such is not 
the fact; it is a republican meeting; the democratic 
meeting was held yesterday — that is, by appointment.' 
He said he had forgotten about that, and says I, ' I will 
not attempt to speak unless I am satisfied there will be 
no interruption. I am not afraid, under ordinary circum- 
stances, of anybody interfering with me, but when you 
have got a crowd of two or three hundred men, I am 
afraid of what they may do.' 

He went off and I did not see him again. A few 

138 The Chisohn Massacre, ' 

minutes after the crowd came around my house with 
their cannon and band. They did not shoot when 
they came the first time until they had passed the gate; 
but they cursed me very extravagantly. When they 
had passed they fired a volley of small arms, it seemed 
to me, in the air over the house. They went around by 
the grocery and took on some more whisky, I suppose, 
and then came back and fired all along by the side of 
my house, cursing me terribly, and saying, ' Come out ! 
What are you in your hole for?' About the fourth or 
fifth time they fired into my house, and the bullets were 
imbedded in the walls. Since that time I have had a 
conversation with the same man who brought me the 
message — Mr. Vincent. He says that my proposition 
was right; he did not think I would have been per- 
mitted to speak, and said there was a strong probability 
I would have been murdered. I made no effort to speak. 
This was Saturday before the election. It was held on 
Tuesday. I did not go out of my house at all on that 
day, nor the day of the election." 


By these "little acts of pleasantry," as this long list of 
ouSges was styled by the virtuous citizens of Kempe 
Ld the press of the State, the complete overthrow o^ 
republicanism was secured, the -g-"-f °"; ^^^P'^'J 
broken up, their newspapers -PP-^^f^! ^"f " ^^road 
as elsewhere, it was proclaimed and circulated abroad 
tha a peaceful, quiet and impartial canvass and election 
had been held. But the perpetrators of these villainies 
in Kemper were not to escape thus easily. Some hirty 
or more of the gang which had wantonly assailed Judge 
Chisolm and his family were reported to the United 
States grand jury, comprised of men of both political 
parties, and indicted under that clause of the Enforce- 
ment Act which guarantees to every citizen who may be 
a candidate for office a full, free and uninterrupted can- 
vass Judge Chisolm, Gilmer and Hopper, in answer to 
a summons from the court, gave testimony before this 

^"two or three unsuccessful attempts to make arrests 
under the finding of the court, by as many different 
deputy marshals, were made before process could be 
served on any of the persons indicted. Walter Davis, 
one of these deputies, was shot at by parties in ambush, 
while passing from DeKalb to Scooba, but escaped with- 
out injury. Papers were finally served but 1^^- -ver 
was anything like a formal arrest made. The rioters 

140 'i fi^ CJiisolin Massacre, 

took their own time for going before a United States 
Commissioner and entering into a bond for appearance 
at the following term of the United States Court. All 
this on the part of the authorities was characterized by 
the press of the State as the "most inhuman and 
uncalled-for act of tyranny and oppression ever perpe- 
trated upon a free people.** 

It was sought by the Gullys, who had been foremost 
in every broil and iniquity perpetrated during the can- 
vass, and some of whom were among the first appre- 
hended, to clothe the arrests with all the horrors of an 
inquisition by the general government. Through their 
especial mouthpiece — the Y^^m^^^x Herald — the democ- 
racy of the county was invoked to " rally to the defense 
of its outraged citizens." The Hon. Mr. Money, who 
had been the opposing candidate to Judge Chisolm in 
the canvass for congressional honors, having a high appre- 
ciation of the services rendered him by his constituency 
of Kemper county, responded promptly to their call, 
and addressed a letter to the Herald^ which elicited the 
following editorial remarks : 

"We received a letter a few days since from Hon. H. 
D. Money, in which he made arrangements to pay us 
twenty dollars for the purpose of defraying the expenses 
of our Kemper 'bulldozers,' and stated that he would 
pay more if it was needed. He expressed the kindest 
feeling of sympathy for those of his fellow-citizens of 
Kemper who were indicted, and declared his willingness 
and determination to bear his full share of all the result." 

Thus it is seen that the conspiracy to intimidate and 

^^ Home Rule'' in Mississippi. 141 

murder was not confined within the narrow limits of a 
single county, nor were the poor "white trash" to do the 
bloody business and at the same time furnish the means 
with which to defray current expenses. The "fortunes" 
as well as the "sacred honor" of the leading men of the 
whole State were pledged to this work, and it was the 
moral and material aid lent by them that carried it into 
successful execution. 

On the first day of January, 1877, following the 
arrests, a " citizens' meeting " was called at DeKalb, to 
give expression, in some substantial way, to the public 
indignation. It is not believed, as one might suppose, 
that this call was for the purpose of organized resistance 
to the Federal authorities. There was an object ahead, 
far more significant, and one which might be realized with 
less trouble and expense to themselves. It was the 
determination of the leaders then to assemble a large 
crowd of ruf^ans at DeKalb and take the life of Judge 
Chisolm and all his associates; for by so doing they 
hoped to destroy the last chance for a successful prose- 
cution of their clan in the United States court. 

The first of January came; but owing to a heavy fall 
of snow the night before — an unusual occurrence for 
that climate — and the bad condition of the roads, the 
"meeting" was not well attended. Besides, Judge 
Chisolm, knowing their intent, had quietly called around 
him on that day a sufficient number of his friends to 
guard against the possibility of an attempt being made 
upon his life. Ten men like Chisolm, when prepared, 
were able at all times to hold the " citizens " to a careful 
consideration of their acts. 

142 The Chisolm Massacre, 

On the 20th of December the community was startled 
with the announcement of the fact that John W. Gully 
had been waylaid by some disguised person secreted by 
the roadside, not more than half a mile from DeKalb, 
and shot from his horse. The animal it appears was 
uninjured and went on into town under an empty saddle, 
while Gully, recovering from the shock of his wounds — 
which were about the chest, and inflicted by two charges 
of buck-shot — followed not far behind, on foot. The 
news of this cowardly attempt at murder spread rapidly 
over the county, and reports were conflicting as to who 
had probably done the deed. After the first impression 
upon the people in the immediate neighborhood, incident 
to an occurrence of the kind, there seemed to be little 
feeling of surprise manifested, and expressions like this 
were frequently heard : 

" Well, the only wonder is that Gully was not killed 
long ago. There are scores of men living in the county 
who would feel warranted in taking his life in any 
possible way." 

On reaching DeKalb, where he arrived shortly after 
his narrow escape from death on the road. Gully, being 
asked who had thus intercepted him, replied that it was 
a negro, who was known in the neighborhood, giving his 
name. On this statement the accused was immediately 
arrested by some of the Gullys. It appeared at once, 
and conclusiv^ely, that this man could not have been 
guilty as charged. Then Gully said it was William 
Hopper, a white man who lived near by. Accordingly, 
Hopper was set upon by the young Gullys, who found 

^'Home Riile" in Mississippi. 143 

him at work in a field adjoining the place where their 
father had been attacked. But they soon became satis- 
fied that Hopper could not have done the cowardly 
deed. The question of course naturally arose, "Who 
did do it?" This, perhaps, might have been answered 
with some degree of satisfaction by propounding an- 
other: "Who, if anybody, had a right to do it ?" Gully, 
with death and the ghosts of the victims of his own 
murderous hand staring him in the face, might thus have 

After a lapse of several days, when it was ascertained 
that B. F. Rush had not been seen since one o'clock of 
the day on which Gully was wounded, it was rumored, 
in a sort of mysterious way, that Gully knew the man 
who shot him; but, for reasons which have never yet 
been given to the public, he refused to tell who it was, at 
least until the March term of the court convened, at 
which time an indictment was found against Rush, 
charging him with the attempt to murder. As a matter 
of course, Gully must then have sworn that Rush was 
the guilty man, as there could have been no other 
important witness in the case. 

Gully's wounds proved to be slight. In a few days he 
was upon the streets again, and the attention of the 
"citizens" once more called to the great "outrage" of 
their arrest by the United States authorities ; and on the 
fifteenth of January another meeting was called at 
DeKalb. Meantime it was secretly whispered about that 
Ben Rush was positively known to have been Gully's 
attempted assassin, and that he was aided and abetted 

144 ^^^^ Chisolm Massacre, 

by Judge Chisolm, Gilmer and other republicans. Hav- 
ing obtained information of this report, the Judge 
feared, at the time, the terrible consequences which 
followed in April of the same year, viz : that a warrant 
for the arrest of himself, Gilmer and others would be 
forged, charging them with complicity in the assault 
upon Gully; that they would all be arrested, confined in 
jail, and while there, during the session of the great 
" citizens " meeting, they would be turned over into the 
hands of a mob and murdered. To prevent this. Judge 
Chisolm again called around him a number of men upon 
whom he could rely in any emergency. On the fifteenth,. 
a "large and enthusiastic" crowd of "citizens" assembled^ 
armed with guns, to deliberate upon their grievances. 
The weapons were stacked in Gully's store, ready for use, 
and the rioters were only prevented from the accomplish- 
ment of their purpose, that day, by the unflinching bravery 
and bold front of Chisolm and his few devoted followers. 
Rush, meantime, had not been heard of since the 
attempt was made upon Gully's life. 

Let it be borne in mind here, that the day on which 
John W. Gully and his followers assailed Judge Chisolm 
and his wife and children — the 4th of November — a 
few chosen friends rallied to their defense and remained 
in the house a greater portion of the day, closely watch- 
ing the conduct of the mob, thirty-five of whom were 
afterward indicted. All persons present on that occa- 
sion would have been important witnesses in the prose- 
cution under these indictments. Their names are here 
given : W. W. Chisolm, Emily S. M. Chisolm, Cornelia 

''Home Rule'' in Mississippi. 145 

J. Chisolm, Clay Chisolm, Johnny Chisolm, John P. Gilmer, 
Angus McLellan, Charlie Rosenbaum, B. F. Rush, Alex, 
and Newton Hopper. The reader has already divined 
the fate of these witnesses. 



The reader should not lose sight oi the fact that, long 
before the enactment of the barbarous scenes described 
in the preceding chapter, " home rule and local self- 
government" — twin messengers of mercy and peace — 
had been thoroughly estabhshed all over the State, 
and that the dreaded camp fires of republicanism had 
everywhere ceased to burn. The judiciary, from the 
supreme court down to the humblest magistrate in a 
country village, clad in the dignity and majesty of their 
official robes, looked benignly down in righteous judg- 
ment upon the minor transgressions of poor, weak and 
sinful humanity, and in solemn state passed upon the 
real intent and true application of constitutional law; 
while the executive, from the governor down to the beat 
constable, was left untrammeled to enforce every mandate 
and decree of the courts. But over and above all, the 
people, in their simple and unoffending dignity, leaned 
contentedly upon the strong arm of a legislature which 
assumed unto itself almost unlimited power to make and 
unmake at will. No " venal wretch " presumed to lift a 
voice to ask "why is this so?" 

The "good people," those representing all the virtue 
and intelligence of the State, had solemnly pledged their 
faith to the restoration of good government, justice and 
equal rights before the law, and who shall dare to say 
that "our promises" are not fulfilled? * 

''Home Rule'' in Mississippi. I47 

On the 29th of January, Judge Chisolm, in answer to 
a summons from the investigating committee, in company 
with his daughter, set out for Washington. On the 
28th, the day before starting, CorneHa wrote to friend as 

follows : 

« We are ready to start for Washington, and expected 
to have gone to Scooba this afternoon, until yesterday 
evening, when papa decided that he could not possibly 
go before to-morrow. I was real sorry I had to wait, for 
I am growing impatient. ('Hope deferred,' etc.) You 
don't know the joy I anticipate in taking this trip. The 
pleasure which new scenes and associations will be to 
me, however, will not equal the sense of real security and 
delight I shall feel to know that papa will be free from 
danger of the assassin's bullet, at least for that little 
leftgth of time." 

While in Washington Judge Chisolm gave the testi- 
mony which is quoted in the preceding' pages. Himself 
and daughter spent the winter at Washington and in 
travel, amid the most agreeable surroundings. 

Here is a letter written by Cornelia, at home, shortly 
after her return — and the last she ever wrote — describing 
the scenes which absorbed her attention, and in the study 
of which her time was largely employed while on this 

To say nothing of the interest found in the communi- 
cation itself, it affords more satisfactory evidence of this 
girl's fine qualities of mind and heart than could be given 
in any other way. 

148 The CJiisolm Massacre. 

DeKalb, Miss., April 27, 1877. 

My dear friend : I have allowed one bright spring 
day after another to pass, still leaving unanswered your 
very kind and very much appreciated letter, until (I'm 
ashamed to acknowledge it), the fact that it has been on 
hand a week, forces me to realize how dilatory I am, and 
animates me to the pleasant task of replying. 

Were it possible for me to tell you how delightful a 
tour I had, or even to convey the faintest idea of how 
much I enjoyed it, you would think the picture was 
over-drawn ; and if I could write a letter long enough to 
give you the minutiae — the most interesting portion to 
myself — I'm sure you would have many chest-breaking 
sighs during a perusal of such a missive, were you to 
have the courage to go over it all. Washington is by 
far the most beautiful city I saw in all my long journey. 
Its broad avenues, great thoroughfares, magnificent 
buildings, lovely parks, and, best of all, handsome gen- 
tlemen, combine to make it seem to me a perfect paradise. 

Speaking of the buildings, the first and grandest 
object of interest to the sight-seer is the Capitol, a mag- 
nificent structure, conspicuous on entering the city, and 
prominent for many miles from every section of the 
neighboring country. It is situated a little east of 
the center of the city, which has grown more rapidly to 
the west than was anticipated, and stands on the brow 
of a plateau ninety feet above the level of the low-tide 
water of the Potomac. This commanding position was 
chosen by George Washington. The Capitol grounds 
are in the form of a parallelogram, and contain fifty- 
two acres. There is a magnificent conservatory of 
flowers within the enclosure, and beautiful fountains, 
which throw the clear, limpid waters from the earth, 
sprinkling the bright green surface beneath with myriads 
of dew-drops, sparkling in the sunshine, as though the 
spot was covered with glittering diamonds. But the 

''^ Home Rule'' in Mississippi, 149 

principal feature of the grounds is a spacious court on 
the east front, which approaches from all the avenues 
and streets leading toward the Capitol. Except where 
these approaches enter it, the court is bordered by an 
esplanade, at the rear of which is a continuous seat, from 
which a view is had of the Capitol. A parapet of pierced 
stone-work forms the back of the seat, separating it from 
the green park-like glade. The parapet is broken at 
intervals by piers, which support beautiful bronze stan- 
dards, sustaining each two lanterns. The colossal statue 
of Washington stands in the court facing the east front. 
It bears the inscription, " First in war, first in peace, and 
first in the hearts of his countrymen." It was made in 
Florence, Italy, and you may judge of its exquisite finish 
when it was under the hand of the artist eight years. 
Its weight is twelve tons. The dome of the Capitol is, 
save three, the highest in the world, and from its top 
may be had the finest view on the continent of the sur- 
rounding country. 

One of the most pleasant days we spent was the one 
on which we visited Mount Vernon. We left Wash- 
ington at ten A. M on the steamer " Arrow " The day 
was slightly cloudy, with a mystical haze (Hayes) over 
all things, which gave an air of enchantment to the 
scenery and made one dream of Paradise. All the bays 
and inlets which indented the shore seemed like havens 
of peace and rest, and the white houses peeping through 
the misty atmosphere. They were far more lovely than 
they possibly could have looked in the strong glare of the 
noon-day sun. The Arsenal, with, its willow -bordered 
sea-wall; the St. Elizabeth's Insane Asylum with its 
turreted red walls, looking like some abbey of the olden 
land; Fort Foote, perched upon the highest land along 
the route; the ancient city of Alexandria, or Zelharen, 
as it was called in the early time, where the old style 
spire of " Christ Church," of which Washington was so 

150 TJie CJiisolni Massacre, 

long a vestryman, is readily identified; Fort Washington, 
with its strong embrasures and parapets, mounted with 
guns, and planned by Washington himself; and, at last, 
Mount Vernon, most sacred shrine of all lovers of lib- 
erty. All were bathed in a gauze-like veil, which hung 
like enchantment around us. We passed many steam- 
ers, flying rapidly to and from the capital, while hund- 
reds of sail-boats, of all sizes, floated along in the still 
waters like huge birds, sailing with the current. Land- 
ing at Mount Vernon, we were introduced to Col. Hol- 
lingsworth, the superintendent of the house and grounds 
once belonging to Washington, and now owned by the 
ladies of America. The "Mansion House" looks quite 
stately from the river, situated about two hundred 
feet above the water. It is, indeed, the most lovely 
place I ever beheld. To the left of the road, as we go 
to the mansion, is a high, well-wooded hillside, abound- 
ing in trailing arbutus and other flowers. About half 
the way up, in a small ravine, are several weeping wil- 
lows, brought from the grave of Napoleon, at St. Helena. 
We were conducted to the tomb, where, in the two 
sarcophaghi, inside a vault of red brick, lie the remains 
of George and Martha Washington. From there, we 
passed to the old vault from whence the bones of Wash- 
ington were taken, after the new tomb was built. We 
walked through every room, from the observatory to the 
cellar. In the latter, is a corner stone, with the initials 
of Lawrence Washington, who built the central portion 
of the mansion, one hundred and thirty-three years ago. 
The large painting of Washington, by Peale; the model 
of the Bastile, in France, cut from a block of granite, 
from the famous old prison; the key of the same, pre- 
sented by Lafayette; the clothes, camp equipage, water- 
buckets, spy-glass, tripod, and many other things were 
examined with great interest by our party. The room 
in which the great man died, is between the two south 

''Home Rule'' m Mississippi. 151 

windows, where they were at that time. The same 
table, upon which his medicine stood, and, also, that 
upon which his candle was placed, are in the room; 
and the old andiron and wire screen at the fire-place. 

Our guide told us that when one died in the good old 
days, in Virginia, the room was closed for two years after 
the death. Mrs. Washington selected the room imnie- 
diately above this one — an attic — because, from its 
windows, she could watch the tomb of her husband. 
Here she lived for eighteen months, admitting no one 
but a favorite servant and cat. The corner of the door 
may still be seen where it was cut out for the ingress 
and egress of the cat. And here Martha Washington 
died. We were told she passed the winter without a 
fire, as there was no way to build one in that room. Is 
it not probable that this hastened her death ? 

I cannot begin to tell you the half. I know you are 
worn out now, so I'll say no more about Mount Vernon; 
though, did I not know that I'd weary you, I could write 
about it all day. The whole scene and events of that 
visit are stamped on my mind more vividly than any I 
ever passed through. I have spent so much time 
describing the two places which were most interesting to 
me, that I must cut the others short. 

We witnessed the inauguration ; and, oh ! it was a 
a grand scene ! I also attended Mrs. Hayes' first recep- 
tion, and called on President Grant. I attended the 
theater and opera quite frequently, and "all my cares 
flew away " while there. I did not see Grace Greenwood 
to know her, but did see Dr. Mary Walker ! Beat that, 
if you can ! Neither did I see Gail Hamilton, but I 
heard John B. Gough in one of his best lectures, and 
was at the very door of Mrs. Southworth's rustic, vine 
clad cottage, where the waters of the Potomac might 
lull her to sleep every night, and the crowing of the 
chanticleer at General Lee's old home arouse her every 

152 TJie Chisohn Massacre, 

morning, from Arlington Heights, just across the river. 
I was also in the House and Senate, almost daily, where 
congregated the finest talent of the land, and where is 
diffused more eloquence than beneath any other roof in 
America. I heard Morton, Blaine, Garfield and all my 
favorites speak. 

We went north after leaving Washington, and spent a 
week in New York city. We also visited the Falls of 
Niagara. Such a scene beggars description, and makes 
me feel too plainly how feeble are my powers of speech 
in attempting to describe a sight so grand. When papa 
and I first saw the cataract, we could only stand as 
though riveted to the spot, and gaze, gaze; until it 
seemed as though we would go over into the mighty 
waters, so terrible was the flow. We were completely 
awe-struck; words seemed as though they would be out 
of place at such a time, and a feeling of reverence, for the 
Giver of all Good, that He should bestow such gifts 
upon His unworthy children seemed to creep involun- 
tarily over us. We were loth to leave the spot where 
we had seen more of grandeur concentrated than was 
elsewhere to be found. I leave it to your imagination. 
Oh ! that I might ever retain the memory of the scene 
which met my eyes when I visited Niagara Falls ! 

I did come home "heart whole," but not exactly 
" fancy free." 

We have been very anxious to send for Lillian, but all the 
horses are on the farm, and papa can't stop them just yet. 
I'll be very glad when she can come, for we are expecting 
the boys — Johnny and Clay — to leave the first of May 
for St. Louis, where they will take a commercial course, 
and I'll be very lonesome while they are gone, and Lillian 
would be so much company for mamma and L 

I'm very impatient to see the twins, too; especially 
little Rosalie, as you say she resembles her cousin Nelie. 
I fear I'll be partial to her, though I'll love them both 


''Home Rule'' in Mississippi. 153 

just as much as I can. Has Alexander grown to be as 
large as his father ? or, has he passed into oblivion and 
given place to his sisters in his father's heart ? You said 
not a word of him. 

If I were to apologize for this long letter, it would 
only make it longer, so I refrain. 

Papa has gone to Mobile. All are well and join me in 
love to the family. 

With many good wishes, I am your niece, 

Nelie J. Chisolm. 


In the month of March, on turning their faces home- 
ward, when the foreboding shadows of the old life in 
Kemper once more fell across the bright pathway of the 
joyous girl, it will not be surprising that the precursor 
of danger again appeared — a faithful and sleepless 
guardian of unselfish love — and, settling upon her fond 
heart, called forth the following expression, uttered in 
tears : 

"O I do so much dislike to go back to DeKalb to 
live; for I feel as though something terrible is going to 
happen to papa." 

From a glimpse of Kemper county society at this time, 
an entire stranger and one Httle thinking of evil might 
well have turned heart-sick and weary away. At that 
very moment the circuit court for the month of March, 
1877, was in session, when Judge J. M. Arnold, by 
courtesy exchanging with Judge Hamm, a democrat 
of the strictest school, an officer of high ability and 
a gentleman of uncompromising integrity, was com- 
pelled to doff the judicial robes, and for the time assume 
the functions more commonly made incumbent upon a 
chaplain of a penitentiary or an overseer of a house of 
correction. Ascending the bench, he delivered a lecture 
upon the depraved and lawless condition of society 
found among the *'good people." John W. Gully had 
now recovered from the wounds received in December, 

''Home Ride'' in Mississippi. i55 

and, as usual, was at the head of a strong and aggressive 
faction of his own party; and there being no common 
enemy to fight, as a matter to be looked for, he had 
declared war upon the more timid members of his par- 
ticular faith, and between his own and the opposing^ 
factions there grew up an enmity and jealousy as bitter 
and malignant as that known to have existed against 
the republican party in its palmiest days. The sheriff, 
himself an imbecile in the performance of any legitimate 
duty connected with his office, but a ready and willing 
tool in the hands of the villainous men who foisted him 
into it — as will soon appear— had permitted the doors 
of the jail to be flung open, and men under indictment 
for crimes so heinous that bail had been refused even by 
a democratic judge, were turned loose and allowed to 
roam the streets at will. The circuit clerk of the coun> y 
living thirteen miles distant from his office — which he 
entrusted entirely to a young and irresponsible deputy 

was then under a bond of two thousand dollars 

for his appearance to answer to a charge of embezzle- 
ment and obtaining money under false pretenses. The 
sheriff's deputy — George Welch — who really furnished 
the brains for running the court house " machine," a sly, 
unscrupulous and intriguing wire-worker, aspired to 
become the sheriff's successor in office as against the 
Gully clan, with John W. Gully at the head, still 
repining for new fields of conquest. Between Welch 
and his friends and the Gullys and their friends, there 
was a jealousy and hatred such as could exist nowhere 
else under similar circumstances, and it is impossible to 

156 The CJdsolm Massacre, 

divine what would have been the result of this contest 
had John Gully lived, as indeed it is now impossible to 
tell what were the immediate causes leading to his death. 
With this refreshing picture of " home rule " before the 
somewhat dazed and mystified vision of Judge Arnold, 
he opened the March term of the court, and on requesting 
the clerk — or his deputy — to produce the records, lo ! 
and behold, the office had been robbed ! Every judg- 
ment and civil process usually entrusted to the keeping 
of the clerk, and every indictment for crime, had been 
spirited away. The executive and judicial functions of 
the county had thus been paralyzed ; and here was pre- 
sented the striking spectacle of the people of a whole 
county, under the reign of " peace and good will toward 
men," living without law and without order. Judge 
Arnold, unable to proceed further, adjourned his court 
until the following morning, for the purpose of gaining 
time to deliberate upon the situation. He then, through 
the sheriff, called to order, and, in the presence of the 
various officers of the county and citizens generally, 
administered the most scathing denunciation of the 
shameful and lawless condition in which he had found 
them — a state, to use very nearly his own words, "of 
anarchy, misrule and corruption, which, if permitted to go 
unbridled, would lead to murder and arson, and all the 
crimes known to the catalogue of infamy." 

He admonished the "good people" to waken to a 
sense of their surroundings, and, for the love of every- 
thing dear to humanity, to rally in defense of law and 
justice trampled under foot. He especially appealed 

^'- Home Rule'' in Mississippi. 15/ 

to the board of supervisors and directed them to use 
every means in their power to bring the perpetrators of 
this and all other crimes to justice; told them that they 
should offer a reward of $500 or $1,000 for the apprehen- 
sion of those who had robbed the clerk's office, and 
said that he himself would recommend the governor 
to offer a similar amount. He stated in the course of 
his remarks, or lecture, that now, under the benign 
influence of " home rule and local self-government," the 
people looked for, and from the fair promises 
made, had a right to expect better things. That Judge 
Arnold is a man of far-seeing judgment and close obser- 
vation, will be shown by the events which followed upon 
the scene just described. 

By this masterly stroke of villainy, murderers, thieves, 
robbers, house-breakers, swindlers of every grade, and 
malefactors in office, were turned loose upon the commu- 
nity, and to-day are plying their various avocations 
without let or hindrance. Some eighty-five criminal and 
forty civil processes were then lost. M. L. Naylor, a 
magistrate, indicted for misdemeanor in office, was thus 
set at liberty, and the grand jury, of which Phil Gully 
was foreman, failed to re-indict in this, as indeed they did 
in nearly or quite all the cases where a member of the 
great party of reform was in any way involved. 

Some months before, the merchandise of M. B. Wood & 
Co., a firm doing business in Scooba, was attached by their 
northern creditors, who suspicioned them of fraudulently 
disposing of their goods. In certain cases of attach- 
ment the sheriff has authority to demand a bond of 

158 The Chisolvi Massacre. 

indemnity from the plaintiff. It was believed that good 
and sufficient bonds in the case were given, but on com- 
ing up in the circuit court — September term of that 
year — the sheriff objected to the bonds, alleging that 
the sureties, for various reasons, were insufficient. Upon 
this a warm and prolonged controversy arose between 
the lawyers employed on either side. Finally the court 
adjourned until the next day, when it was found the 
sheriff had dissolved the attachment, as the statute 
gives him power to do, when, in his judgment, sufficient 
indemnity is not offered. Thus the plaintiff was 
defrauded of his just dues. The plaintiff's attorneys, 
believing this act on the part of the sheriff to have been 
fraudulent and illegal, made a motion before the court 
charging the same, and claiming damages of the sheriff, 
on his sureties, for the amount of plaintiff's whole claim, 
amounting altogether to eighteen or twenty thousand 
dollars. It is the opinion of some of the best attorneys 
of East Mississippi — those employed at the Kemper 
county bar — who are familiar with the facts, that the 
sheriff, Sinclair, could and would have been held responsi- 
ble for this large sum of money had not the robbery of 
the clerk's office been procured, and every paper in the 
case stolen and destroyed. By the theft of these papers 
alone, then, one of the most villainous swindling schemes 
of the age was perpetrated. 

Under the conciliatory policy, as indicated by the 
message of the newly inaugurated president, the whole 
power of the State government being under con- 
trol of the "best citizens," Judge Chisolm indulged the 

''Home Rule'' in Mississippi. 159 

fond hope that a spirit of greater tolerance would pre- 
vail, and that possibly he might be permitted to return 
home, and there remain unmolested until such a time as 
he could dispose of his property and leave the country 
forever, which it was his settled determination to do. 

On the 29th of March, the father and daughter arrived 
at DeKalb; he to resume the accustomed routine of 
business on his plantations, and she once more to become 
the central star, around which the hopes and aspirations 
of the household clung in the fondest admiration and 


The delight experienced by the fond wife and mother, 
on the return of her loved ones, knew but one cloud, and 
that was the ever present fear that assassination would 
overtake her husband, before he could settle his business 
and get away. 

Possessed of an amiable and contented disposition, 
it was the good fortune of Cornelia to be able to make 
the most of her surroundings, and she was not among 
those to sit down and repine at any condition, however 
displeasing it might be in fact; and a few days later she 
sent a friend in Washington by letter, the following 
cheerful and animated picture of her daily life. The 
message bears date DeKalb, April 22, and is addressed 
to her " Dear Flora." Only a brief extract is given: 

" This afternoon, brother and I mounted our horses and 
galloped away for a ride. We left the road about five 
miles from town and took to the woods, and I would 
tell you how beautiful they looked, if I could. The 
trees are all clothed in a soft, tender foliage— the leaves 

l6o The Chisolm Massacre. 

being about half grown. There are lovely flowers of 
every color and variety now in bloom along the creek. 
Brother and I dismounted, and galloped on foot through 
the woods for an hour or more. I will send you a little 
bouquet of wild flowers that I picked by the creek, 
down at the fish-trap, on papa's plantation. The banks 
there are very steep and high, and the stream being now 
much swollen by rains, the water dashes over the trap in 
a perfect cataract. The beautiful yellow jessamines meet 
across the stream, and clasp their soft, sweet blooms and 
tendrils together; while the banks are gemmed with 
forget-me-nots, buttercups, wild violets, dogwood and 
honeysuckle. Oh, I wish you could have been with us, 
on our ride; then you would know how delightful it 
was. It is getting quite late, and I'm sleepy. * -J^- * 
Sweet papa just returned from St. Louis, yesterday, and 
is going to Mobile this week. He sends his kindest 
regards. * * * Remember me to your mama, with 
love. Your affectionate friend 

But to the household generally, the time passed with 
the usual monotony of country life, save only the 
excitement incident to the preparations being made to 
send the two older boys, Clay and Johnny, to school at 
St. Louis. The Judge had been to Mobile for the pur- 
pose of negotiating with his merchants there, for funds to 
defray the necessary current expenses. In the afternoon 
of the 26th of April, he returned with the money and 
suitable equipments for the boys, and the tickets for 
their transportation to St. Louis in his pocket. Coming 

'^Honie Rule'' in Mississippi. i6i 

up the open common, in front of the house, the Judge 
was first greeted by Cornelia, who, running down the 
pathway, threw her arms around his waist and kissed 
him, and the two walked to the front gate, where they 
were met by Mrs. Chisolm, and together all passed on 
to the house, taking seats on the front porch, where they 
were soon joined by the three boys. While there 
engaged in conversation concerning the future, and dis- 
cussing the probability of their soon being able to leave 
DeKalb, and go to some place where greater security to 
life, and the pleasures of friendly intercourse with their 
fellows might be found, John W. Gully rode by on the 
accustomed route to his home, about a mile and a half 
out of town. He had been from sight but a few min- 
utes, when a negro came riding hurriedly up from the 
direction in which Gully had gone, and reported that 
Gully had been waylaid and shot, and was then lying 
dead in the road, but a short distance from his own door. 
The shock which this sudden and terrible intelligence 
brought to the happy little group just described, can 
better be imagined than told; but certain it is, not one 
of the family from the father down, bitter and malignant 
as Gully's enmity toward them had been, who did not 
shed tears of sorrow and regret. Sorrow for the mur- 
dered man and his afflicted family, and regret that they 
were compelled to live in a community where such ter- 
rible crimes were permitted to go without the shadow 
of investigation by the courts of the country. 



This was on Thursday, and event followed event in 
rapid succession. For some reason never yet explained 
to the satisfaction of any one except the enemies of 
Judge Chisolm, and very much contrary to the custom 
usual in a climate like that of Mississippi, Gully was not 
buried until Saturday, the 28th. And here it becomes 
necessary to introduce a new character in the progress 
of this story, and one whose significant name will be 
closely allied with the darkest phase of the infamy now 
to be disclosed. At the burial, a large crowd of citizens 
had assembled from all parts of the county. George 
S. Covert, who had married a niece of Gully, and lived 
in Meridian, a distance of thirty-five miles from DeKalb, 
appeared upon the scene, and became the central figure 
in the conspiracy which was there consummated. Covert 
was from the " city," wore a clean linen shirt, and words 
from his mouth fell upon the ears of the savage horde 
like an inspired revelation. These men, quick enough at 
best to inaugurate a scene of debauch and riot, and 
ready at all times to credit any story, no matter how 
false and groundless against a political opponent, were 
told by Covert and his wife's kindred, that Ben Rush 
was Gully's assassin ; that he had been hired to do the 
deed by Judge Chisolm, who was then at his home in 
DeKalb, and now an opportunity had presented itself 
in which they could rise in the majesty of their might, 

''Home Rule'' in Mississippi. 163 

and rid the county and the world of this man. Nor 
must they undertake so hazardous a task alone. Chis- 
olm, they well knew, would fight with that desperation 
and strength which a consciousness of right and a 
determination to defend his home and his children to the 
last, would lend him, and numbers sufficiently large to 
insure success without danger to themselves must be 
gathered. Accordingly a courier was dispatched to 
Ramsey Station, in Alabama, and the aid of their old 
confederates in blood invoked. The Alabamians, it 
appears, were somewhat loth to respond to this call, 
unless some more plausible excuse for riot and murder 
in open day could be shown, and we are thus spared the 
pain of adding another horror to the long list of their 
terrible deeds. 

To give character and tone to the statement already 
circulated, implicating Judge Chisolm in the murder of 
Gully, it was told at the funeral that Rush had been 
seen but a short time before by two negroes — George 
Fox and Dee Hampton — at night, in a saloon in com- 
pany with Chisolm and Gilmer, when in the very act of 
concocting the scheme for the assassination, and all the 
time Rush held in his hand the fatal shot-gun with 
which his work was to be accomplished. To this was 
added the story that he had secretly met Judge Chisolm, 
while the latter was at Mobile, when the barter and sale 
of death was finally agreed upon, and the money actually 
paid to Rush. The ghost of this man Rush, whose 
destruction Gully himself had so many times sought, 
would never " down." Rush, who singly and alone, in 

164 The Chisolni Massacre. 

open battle, had faced the whole murderous Gully clan, 
was the only one upon whom they could, with any 
degree of plausibility, fasten the guilt of John W. Gully's 
untimely taking off. Upon this point alone their case 
rested ; for, through no other device or subterfuge could 
they reach the object of their especial hate and fear. 
Chisolm was the real murderer, and Rush the guilty 
agent. This theory must be established or their case 
fall to the ground. Upon this theory Covert claimed 
to be acting under advice of eminent counsel from 
Meridian. A case against them could be sustained far 
enough, it was believed, to accomplish the original design, 
and quench their thirst for blood. But this work, it was 
agreed, must be effected without danger to themselves. 
What was done must be done quickly, and time should 
not be taken for reflection. If, by any means, Chisolm 
should become apprised of their purposes before his 
arrest and confinement had been accomplished, they well 
knew he would call around him again, as in times past, 
a few devoted and heroic men, upon whom an assault 
could only be carried at a most alarming sacrifice to the 
assailants. The better to secure the object of the con- 
spiracy, Gilmer and Rosenbaum, who lived at Scooba, and 
the two Hoppers living at DeKalb, were to be taken sim- 
ultaneously with Judge Chisolm, disarmed, and together 
all to be locked up in jail. The arrests must be made 
under the forms of law and the promise of protection, 
else they would not be tamely submitted to, and these 
men, when thus warned of danger, would be left to 
band together at will, in defense of their lives and 

''Home Rule'' in Mississippi, 165 

homes. All the work that remained, after the cell doors 
were fastened upon the victims, could be done easily and 
with no risk. The accomplishment of this, then, became 
the great strategic point ; and to George S. Covert was 
mainly assigned that delicate and refined piece of 
villainy. If the Meridian Mercury, a newspaper published 
in his own town, is in any way to be credited. Covert had 
recently met with unparalleled success in keeping a 
bosom crony out of the penitentiary by means of bribery, 
false swearing and the like, and it is not surprising that 
the GuUys should have made choice of this one of their 
numerous relatives, whose rare genius in the art of deceit 
and perjury had been so well established, to assist them 
through a similar means, in getting Judge Chisolm and 
his associates locked up in jail, where they might be 
burned or shot to death as circumstances presented. 
Before these men could thus be arrested and confined, 
a warrant, or something having the appearance of a war- 
rant, authorizing it, and based upon a solemn oath, must 
be presented. Covert, though not valiant in the use of 
the shot-gun, was ready in the performance of this work, 
and J. L. Spinks, a justice of the peace — the same of 
whom mention is made elsewhere — himself undoubtedly 
knowing its full purport and meaning, issued the warrant 
which is copied below, verbatim et literatim : 

State of Mississippi, \ 
Kemper County. j 
To the sheriff or any constable in said county greeting : 
Whereas, Geo. S. Covert has this day made complaint, 
on oath, to the undersigned, a justice of the peace in and 

1 66 The Chisolm Massacre. 

for the county, that he fully believes and has good 
reason to believe that B. F. Rush did, on the night of 
the 26th inst., kill and murder John W. Gully, and that 
W. W. Chisolm, Alex Hopper, Newt Hopper, J. P. Gil- 
mer and Charlie Rosenbaum were accessories to the 
deed. Wherefore we command you to forthwith appre- 
hend the said B. F. Rush, W. VV. Chisolm, Alex Hopper, 
Newt Hopper, J. P. Gilmer and Charlie Rosenbaum, the 
accused, and bring them before T. W. Brame, Esq., or 
some other justice of the peace of said county, at 
DeKalb, on Monday, the 30th day of April, 1877, to 
answer the above charge, and do or receive what, accord- 
ing to law, may be considered touching the same, and 
have you then and there this writ. 

Witness my hand and seal, April 28, 1877. 

(Signed) J. L. Spinks, J. P., [Seal.] 
• Kemper County. 

State of Mississippi, ) 
Kemper County. f 
Before me, J. L. Spinks, a justice of the peace, in and 
for said county, personally came Geo. S. Covert, who 
stated, upon oath, that he fully believes and has good 
reason to believe that B. F. Rush did, on the night of 
the 26th inst., in said county, feloniously kill and murder 
John W. Gully, and that W. W. Chisolm, Alex Hopper, 
Newt Hopper, J. P. Gilmer and Charlie Rosenbaum were 
accessories to the deed ; whereupon he prays that war- 
rants be issued for their arrest, and they be made to 
answer the charges brought against them. 

(Signed) Geo. S. Covert. 

Sworn and subscribed to before, me April 28th, 1877. 

(Signed) J. L. Spinks, J. P. 

Witnesses: — J. J. Griffin, S. Evans, Esq., Jno. W. 
Smith, J. R. Smith, Dr. Edwards, M. Rosenbaum. 

''Home Rule'' in Mississippi. 167 

The following indorsements were found written across 
the back of this warrant: 

"The State of Mississippi 
B. F. Rush, 


Alex Hopper, | 

Newt Hopper, I 

J. P. Gilmer, and | 

Charlie Rosenbaum. J 

Rec'd in office April 29, 1877. 

(Signed) F. C. SINCLAIR, Sheriff. 

" I hereby appoint W. W. Holsel my legal and special 
deputy, to execute and return this writ according to law. 

April 29, 1877. ^^ .„„ 

(Signed) F. C. SINCLAIR, Sheriff. 

M. Rosenbaum, whose name appears above as one of 
the "witnesses" to the murder of John W. Gully, has 
been for twenty-five years one of DeKalb's most hon- 
ored and respected citizens. He is the father of Charlie 
Rosenbaum, one of the accused, and upon his honor as 
a gentleman, declares that he never was approached by 
Covert, or any one else, in regard to the killing of Gully; 
that he knows nothing whatever of the facts, and that his 
name was there used without his knowledge or consent. 
" Dr." Edwards, whose name, even, they did not know, 
and J. R. Smith are residents of Meridian. They have 
both been life-long friends of Judge Chisolm, and make 
the same declaration in regard to their connection with 
the pretended warrant, and their knowledge of the guilt 

1 68 TJic CJiisolin Massacre. 

of the accused parties, that Rosenbaum does. The 
names of the two negroes, it will be borne in mind, 
do not appear on the warrant as witnesses at all. John 
W. Smith and S. Evans are the attorneys under whose 
advice Covert acted, if his own statements are to be 
relied upon. Smith lives in Meridian and Evans at 
Enterprise, distant thirty-five and fifty-five miles, respect- 
ively, from DeKalb and the scene of the assassination 
concerning which their names are written down as wit- 
nesses. What they proposed to testify to has never 
been divulged, as the warrant does not appear ever to 
have been " executed and returned according to law." 
But what signified an act of false swearing to a man like 
Covert, with a soul not only void of honor, but human 
sympathy as well. 

The warrant, as will be seen, was issued, or claimed to 
have been issued Saturday, and made returnable before 
Esquire Brame, in DeKalb, on Monday. This early 
return was arranged to meet any doubt which might 
arise in Judge Chisolm's mind as to the danger of delay 
after his arrest, whereby a crowd of ruffians might be 
assembled for the object of taking the law into their own 
hands. He would then expect to pass over the Sabbath 
in custody* Meantime, by the quick despatch of couriers 
to every portion of the county, at the dead hour of 
night, through dark and unfrequented bridle-paths, across 
streams, lagoons and swamps — the old familiar routes 
so often traveled b}' these men in days gone by, when 
their mission had no worse significance than the 
whipping or killing of some poor negro or teacher of a 

^^ Home Rule'' in Mississippi. 169 

public school — willing hearts and hands could be 
gathered at DeKalb early on Sunday morning, sufficient 
in numbers to guarantee their ability to murder two or 
three men already disarmed and securely locked up in 
jail, awaiting the process of a judicial investigation, and 
that without incurring much danger to themselves. 

This was the plot by means of which the great work, 
so many times defeated, was finally to be accomplished, 
and in which George S. Covert, an " honored and 
respected citizen" of Meridian, appeared as the great 
overshadowing genius. 


All night long the sound of iron hoofs rang out upon 
the motionless air, soon to be rent by the murderous 
discharge of guns, mingled with the shouts of savage 
men, the shrieks of despairing women and affrighted chil- 
dren, whose prayers and tears and warm life-blood were 
to add fresh fuel to the unbridled flame of hate and 
fury. All night long, girt about with pistol and leathern 
belt, and guns across the saddle's pommel, the grim- 
visaged and grinning barbarians rode into DeKalb by 
twos, threes and fours. Before the soft and genial rays 
of the sun of early spring had kissed away the dew of 
that beautiful Sabbath morning, two hundred and fifty 
men, reared in the most degrading ignorance and trained 
in a school of blood and crime, were hovering about the 
environs of DeKalb, ready to do the will of any one 
who might assume leadership. 

They had not long to wait. Sinclair, the imbecile 
sheriff and ready tool of the conspirators, with two 
deputies, had already gone, fortified with his forged and 
fraudulent warrant to the house of Alex Hopper, and 
placed him and his younger brother Newton under 
arrest. Hopper expressed unwillingness to go with the 
sheriff until he had breakfasted, and the sheriff reluctantly 
consented to wait. During this delay, Hopper clandes- 
tinely sent a note by a negro to inform Judge Chisolm 
that he himself had already been arrested under a 

'^ Home Rule'' in Mississippi. 171 

cliarge of complicity in the murder of John W. Gully, 
that the sheriff and his deputies would next visit him 
for the same purpose, and that warrants were also out 
for the arrest of Gilmer and Rosenbaum. This, as will 
be seen, afforded Judge Chisolm ample time to have 
escaped, if he had desired it, and which he certainly 
would have done had he felt the gnawings of a guilty 
conscience. His wife and children, with quick intuition, 
accustomed as they had been to scenes of danger and 
outlawry, knowing well the spirit that possessed the 
hearts of the men who were thus seeking to place their 
beloved guardian within a mesh from which escape 
would be impossible, implored him to mount a horse and 
leave at once. To this Judge Chisolm replied that he 
had nothing to fear; was innocent of any crime or 
offense against the law, and that for no consideration 
would he incur the suspicion of guilt by leaving his 
home, or in any way trying to avoid any just and legal pro- 
cess. While his breakfast was being prepared, his wife 
sent a servant to the stable for a horse, thinking that 
possibly the Judge might yet be prevailed upon to go. 
She also ordered a cup of coffee to be placed upon the 
table in advance of the regular meal, and with all the 
earnestness of her nature, begged her husband to drink 
his coffee, and then mount the horse and fly from the 
certain and inevitable death which awaited him. 

While the mother and daughter were thus beseeching, 
the sheriff and deputies, with the two Hoppers, came 
up, and the warrant produced in the preceding chapter 
was handed him to read. Judge Chisolm willingly 

1/2 TJie Chisolni Massacre, 

submitted to its decree, but objected to being carried to 
jail, where he had reason to believe he would be mur- 
dered, and asked that a guard might be placed over him 
at his own house. To this the sheriff at first objected, 
stating that "they say you must go to jail." By this 
time a number of men had gathered about the house, 
and the sheriff consented to leave his prisoners there, in 
charge of men appointed, until they could have a hear- 
ing the following morning. Judge Chisolm named some 
of the persons whom the sheriff designated as guards, 
and he then despatched a courier to inform Gilmer and 
Rosenbaum of their contemplated arrest, advising them 
to come to DeKalb, and give themselves up peaceably 
as he had done. Men in greater numbers, with guns in 
their hands, continued to assemble around the house 
from every direction. Finally, without a reason being 
^iven for so doing. Judge Chisolm was removed to a 
small building apart, and in which there was no fire- 
place, and composed of thin weather-boarding, having 
no lock or other means of fastening the door. On pass- 
ing into the room, the Judge for the first time saw that 
his premises from every quarter were occupied by armed 
men, while others stood in the streets leading by. 

He asked the sheriff the meaning of all this, and his 
reply was that, " TJiey say your guard must be in- 
creased." Mrs. Chisolm then came in and protested 
against her husband being confined in a damp room, 
without fire, as he was otherwise in poor health and 
subject to asthma. The sheriff then consented to the 
prisoner being conveyed back to the house, and, as they 

''Home Rule'' m Mississippu 173 

were passing the open space in the yard, between the 
building in which he had been temporarily confined and 
the dwelling, a large crowd of .villainous looking men 
rushed in a body, with guns in their hands, and sur- 
rounded him. The Judge again asked the sheriff if this 
was the usual mode of treating a prisoner when in 
charge of the proper officers of the law. His only reply 
was, " They say that you must be securely guarded." 
Judge Chisolm then asked who he meant by ''theyT 
Was he the sheriff of the county, acting under the 
proper requirements of the law, or was he simply 
the instrument of a mob, which only sought the life of a 
defenseless victim ? To this no reply was made, and in 
a few minutes, after first going out upon the streets and 
holding a conversation with a man named Jere Watkins, 
who had just ridden up from the rear of Judge Chisolm's 
house, at the head of a large body of armed men, and 
who is known to be a most notorious Ku-Klux des- 
perado and villain, the sheriff returned and told Judge 
Chisolm that he must now go to jail. " They say you 
must go to jail," were the exact words he used. Mrs. 
Chisolm then asked the privilege of being alone with her 
husband a few minutes before he left, and, without wait- 
ing for the sheriffs consent, she went with him into an 
adjoining room, where she opened a closet from which 
there was a trap-door leading into a garret above. She 
then besought her husband to take refuge there; that 
she would hand him his guns, and he could defend him- 
self against the whole cowardly horde, and if finally 
killed, which she believed was more than probable, he 

1/4 ^^^^ CJdsolni Massacre. 

would not die like a felon, but his last breath would be 
drawn in his own house, where he would be surrounded 
by his wife and children, who worshipped him. This he 
also refused to do, stating that he had submitted to the 
mandates of the law, and that he must wait and obey 
its processes. Besides, if he were to secrete himself in 
the house, as the mob knew he was there, when the 
shooting began, his wife and children would probably be 
sacrificed and the building burned down over their heads. 
Without further hesitation he placed himself in the 
hands of the sheriff and his guards — none of whom 
were those originally selected by Judge "Chisolm — and 
the procession moved toward the jail. The Judge's wife, 
and the children, Cornelia, Clay, Johnny and Willie, all 
followed close by his side. 

Before leaving the house, Angus McLellan, a brave 
and sturdy old Scotchman, and a subject of Great 
Britain, who had stood by Judge Chisolm through many 
a trying scene before ; kind and gentle as a woman when 
not aroused, but determined as fearless when in defense 
of that which he conceived to be the right, came in and 
volunteered whatever assistance he might be able to ren- 
der the distressed family ; and, arming himself with Clay 
Chisolm's gun, followed them to the jail. When near the 
door at the foot of the stairs leading up to the cells, 
the sheriff stopped Mrs. Chisolm and refused her admis- 
sion. She insisted, and, despite his efforts to prevent, 
went up, as did all the children and McLellan. 

Meantime Gilmer and Rosenbaum, who had received 
Judge Chisolm's note, set out for DeKalb, in compliance 

^^ Home Rule'' in Mississippi. i;-5 

with his request to come in and give themselves up to 
the sheriff. Gilmer, when preparing to leave home, took 
off his watch and all valuable papers about his person 
and gave them to his wife, and while at the glass, 
arranging his toilet — with which he took more than 
usual pains — he said to her, " Effie, if I were to die sud- 
denly, you would not have me buried until certain that I 
was dead, would you ? " To this she replied " no," and 
then, holding her little child in her arms, she went up to 
her husband, and with tears in her eyes, begged him not 
to go to DeKalb; or, if he would go, to take her with 
him. Having no conveyance ready at the time, Mr. 
Gilmer could not grant her request; but told his wife 
that if he was sent to jail she could come up late in the 
evening and remain with him until his release, which he 
felt sure would take place the following day. They pro- 
ceeded on their journey, and when about half way to 
DeKalb, Gilmer and Rosenbaum met a deputy sheriff 
who had started to Scooba for the purpose of arresting 

This man said nothing about making an arrest, but 
when aside with Gilmer, showed him the warrant and 
told him as he valued his life not to go to DeKalb at 
all that day. But they rode on, and when arriving at 
the residence of Mr. M. Rosenbaum, father of the young 
man alluded to, they stopped and sent a note in to the 
sheriff, stating that they were there and would remain 
subject to his order. This was about twelve o'clock. 
James Brittain, a citizen living near, who had been 
deputized by the sheriff, came, took them into custody 

176 The CJiisohn Massacre, 

and started to the jail. As they passed along the 
streets squads of armed men fell in at intervals from 
every accessible point. The two prisoners began to 
show signs of uneasiness, when Brittain took Gilmer by 
the wrist, and while thus holding him, one of the Gullys 
emptied a charge of buck-shot into his back between the 
shoulders. Gilmer exclaimed : 

" O ! Lord ; don't shoot any more ! I gave myself up 
and you promised to protect me!" 

He then broke loose and attempted to run into a 
narrow alley, between two buildings, but was confronted 
at the other end of the passage by a crowd of men and 
there shot down and his prostrate body riddled with 
bullets. That evening, before leaving home, while pre- 
paring to follow her husband to DeKalb, his mangled 
and bloody corpse was laid down at Mrs. Gilmer's feet. 

Rosenbaum appealed to a friend whom he recognized in 
the mob — none of them were disguised — and through 
his assistance kept out of range of the guns which were 
frequently leveled at him, and was in that way carried 
on to the jail, where we left Judge Chisolm and his , 
family but an hour or two before. 


Gilmer was already dead, and the young widow with 
her orphan child, and Gilmer's aged mother, paralyzed 
with grief, were bending over his cold and inanimate 
form. Chisolm, Rosenbaum and the two Hoppers were 
now securely locked up, and no friend of either bore arms 
save the dreaded Scotchman, McLellan. All the work 
which had been assigned to Covert and his aids, was 
thus successfully accompHshed, and that worthy had 
already withdrawn to some safe retreat. He was him- 
self the father of a blooming family, with young daughters 
just budding into womanhood. Doubtless he did not 
care to linger where the screams of women and children, 
mangled, torn and bleeding, would soon rend the air, and, 
like a poisoned and barbed arrow, strike deep into his 
cowardly and guilty heart. Now this much was done, 
before the final slaughter began it was desirable that 
the alleged proof of the complicity of these men in 
Gully's murder should actually be produced. Where no 
proof is known to exist in fact, in some countries the 
process of manufacturing it is slow and often impossible; 
but not so in others. At least, a process which had 
before served well in many a case on record in Missis- 
sippi, and which had seldom failed, was left the people 
of Kemper. 

The two negroes, who were reported to have seen 
Chisolm and Rush in their mysterious nightly vigils when 


178 TJic CJtisolm Massacre, 

concocting the scheme of murder, were to be compelled 
so to testify; and now that the confinement of Judge 
Chisolm and his friends prevented the possibility of 
interference on their part, Fox and Hampton, the pre- 
tended colored witnesses, were taken into a wood, near 
by, and hung by the neck for the purpose of enforc- 
ing them to testify to something which they never saw 
or heard. Knowing nothing, as a matter of course, they 
told nothing, and, after having been strangled and beaten 
nearly to death, were permitted to go, and the alleged 
proof has never yet been found. 

Within the dark and frowning walls of the county jail, 
shut up with common thieves and prisoners of the 
lowest grade, from an early hour on that Sabbath morn- 
ing until the sun had sunk well-nigh down the western 
horizon, the doomed family waited, and watched and 
prayed; while without, three hundred yelling sayages, 
like hungry wolves, were clamoring for their blood. 

The quick, sharp report of a dozen murderous shot- 
guns from up the street, and the subsequent appearance 
of Charlie Rosenbaum, who was thrust into jail like 
a felon upon the scaffold ; the loud curses and yells of 
the infuriated mob, all together, told too well the fate 
which had befallen Gilmer. 

Inside the jail, the pretended guards would put down 
their guns, and pass out and in at will. Many of these 
were men who had known Judge Chisolm and his fam- 
ily well for years ; and not a few of them had, for as long 
a time, been pensioners upon his bounty. Among others, 
Phil Gully came in and spoke of the many acts of 

^^ Home Rule'' hi Mississippi. 179 

courtesy which had passed between himself and Judge 
Chisolm in days gone by. At one time, the guns were 
stacked in a corner, and nearly all the guards went out, 
when Cornelia discovered that some of the pieces, at 
least, were loaded only with blank cartridges. She told 
her father that in case the guards did not come back, he 
might have to withstand a siege, and in that event 
would need amunition, and expressed a desire to go 
to the house for the purpose of getting it. To this the 
father objected, at first, fearing that she would meet 
with insult, and probably personal harm in passing 
through the mob without. She insisted, and after get- 
ting consent of the jailor to pass, under the pretense of 
going for food, took her little brother Willie, and 
together they went to the house. While there, she 
gathered up- all the jewelry, silver-ware and other val- 
uables, packed them securely in trunks, locked the trunks 
and carried them into closets, which she also securely 
fastened; then secreting powder, bullets and wadding 
under her skirts, took some provisions in her arms, 
and with WiUie returned to the jail, and there informed 
her father that the servants had all taken flight, and that 
the premises were deserted. Judge Chisolm then ex- 
pressed a desire that the stock, especially the horses, 
should be watered and otherwise cared for. In the 
excitement of the morning they had been entirely neg- 
lected. Not one of the family cared to go, fearing that 
an assault upon the jail would be made during their 
absence, and the bloody work of the mob accomplished. 
The Judge was particularly anxious concerning the 

i8o The CJiisolin Massacre, 

horses, apparently having a faint hope that they might 
yet in some way be of service to him. Mrs. Chisolm 
concluded that she could best be spared from the jail, 
and asked Johnny to go with her. 

This little fellow, thirteen years of age, as tender and 
delicate as a girl, had often been made the subject of 
pleasant jest by other members of the family, on 
account of retired manners, taste for books of an 
elevated moral tone, and strong passion for the cul- 
tivation of flowers. But on that day his true character 
was developed, and rose to a height in courage and 
devotion worthy the emulation of the most exalted hero. 

In reply to the request made by his mother, he said, 
his eyes filling with tears : 

" O, mother, I don't want to go, for as soon as I leave 
they will kill father. But if you say I must, I will go !" 

Then taking little Willie the mother went to the 
stable, and, while attending to the stock, the report of 
the dreaded shot-gun again rang out upon the air. Run- 
ning through the yard to the gate in front of the house, 
in plain sight of the jail, she saw two or three guns dis- 
charged at a man then on the side facing her. When 
the smoke cleared away he had sunk upon the ground. 
Calling out to Willie to hurry on, that another man 
had been killed, Mrs. Chisolm ran across the common 
toward the spot. When half way there, fearing that 
an accidental shot might kill her boy, she told him 
to hide in a deep ditch which they were then compelled 
to cross. Taking a second thought, and believing they 
would kill him any way if found, she told him to go 

^^Home Rule'' in Mississippi, i8i 

to a negro cabin, situated on the left about a hundred 
yards distant. The boy did as he was told, and Mrs. 
Chisolm hurried on to the jail. In passing, she recog- 
nized the dead body of McLellan, the one whom she 
had seen two of the Gullys in the act of shooting but a 
moment earlier, while she was at the gate. Before Mrs. 
Chisolm left the jail for the stable the sheriff came up 
and demanded of the old Scotchman that he should go 
down stairs ; that in refusing he was resisting the legal 
authorities of the county. McLellan replied that he 
had never disobeyed a law in his life ; that if the law 
required of him that he should leave the jail he would 
go, and the old man reluctantly and sorrowfully put 
down his gun, went below and for some time stood in 
the hall, at the foot of the stairs, leaning against the 
wall with his head down, in a thoughtful and abstracted 
mood. While passing out, on her way to the stable, 
Mrs. Chisolm saw him standing as above described. 
After she had gone the sheriff, according to his own 
testimony, went to McLellan and repeated his demand 
that he should leave. In compliance with this the old 
man went through the door — the only outside opening 
in the building — which is on the south side, and passing 
around the east end of the jail, went to the north side ; 
and while walking in the direction of his own house, 
his head still down, he was fired upon by the Gullys 
and his body riddled with bullets. 

At this time, Cornelia, who stood looking through the 
grates of a window at the ghastly scene below, fully 
conscious of the impending fate of her father, in the very 

1 82 The CJiisolni Massacre. 

agony of despair, fell upon her knees and begged that a 
single spark of mercy might be shown them. " O ! why 
do you do my papa so bad ?" she cried. *' He never has 
harmed any one in his life, much less any of you, so 
many of whom have taken food from his hands ! " 

" him ! " exclaimed Bill Gully, who stood 

below with a gun on his back, " we'll do him worse than 
that!" and this, with a half dozen shots fired at the 
window at the same moment, was the reply she received. 
The blood of the old Scotchman had given fresh 
impetus and courage to the mob ; for, by his death the 
last dangerous obstacle that interposed between them 
and the victim whose life they most craved, had been 
removed, and they rushed furiously into the jail, headed 
by Rosser and the Gullys. With superhuman strength 
Mrs. Chisolm worked her way through this crowd to the 
door at the head of the stairs. This door opens into a 
hall which leads entirely around the jail, outside of the 
cages or cells, which are built in the centre. In this 
corridor, directly back of the stairway. Judge Chisolm 
had taken refuge. Within the door stood Cornelia and 
Johnny, with Overstreet and Wall, the only remaining 
guards. Finding the door fastened, Rosser, with loud 
and angry oaths, called for an ax, and cursed his confed- 
erates who feared to come up the stairs. One ax was 
brought and then another. Mrs. Chisolm, seizing Rosser 
by the arm, implored him to desist, and asked if he 
did not have a wife and children at home. To this he 
made no reply, but rudely thrust her aside and vigor- 
ously plied the ax. Cornelia entreated Overstreet to 

'■^ Home Rule'' m Mississippi. 183 

shoot through the grates in the door at Rosser and the 
mob coming up the stairs. Overstreet replied that he dare 
not ; stating as a reason that he knew his own life would 
pay the penalty of such an act. He begged them, how- 
ever, to go back, but to no purpose. 

The numbers around the door increased, and guns were 
thrust through the grates and fired into the hall at 
random. Judge Chisolm, seeing that his time drew near, 
then cried out, " Daughter, bring me some guns from the 
corner; I know I must die, but I will go down with my 
colors flying!" Seeing that the door must soon give 
way, Cornelia then took up an armful of guns left by the 
guards, who had deserted their posts, and carried them 
to her father. Coming back to the door, she was just in 
time to receive the contents, of a load which, first strik- 
ing the flat, iron grating, filled her face with chips of lead 
and burnt powder, causing the blood to flow from more 
than a score of ugly wounds. 

Despite the frantic efforts of Mrs. Chisolm, who never 
ceased to labor and pray, the lock was chopped out and 
there stood Rosser and Bill and Henry Gully, with guns 
ready for use. Cornelia and Johnny, with a courage 
scarcely ever before recorded in the annals of great and 
chivalric deeds, endeavored to hold the door back 
against the fearful odds. But steadily it gave way, and 
Rosser's gun was put through the opening and dis- 
charged, shooting off Johnny's right arm at the wrist. 
So close was the muzzle that his clothing was set on 
fire. At this the little fellow screamed out, in the agony 
of fear and pain, and Clay came and carried him behind 

184 TJie Chisolm Massacre, 

one of the iron cages ; but was no sooner back to the 
door, where he went immediately, than Johnny had 
returned and placed his shoulder against it, and with all 
his little strength sought to hold it back. Finally, with 
a sudden crash, the door flew open and Johnny ran into 
his father's arms, crying out as he did so, " O ! don't 
shoot my father ! " 

Cornelia then seized Rosser's gun and interposed her 
fast-failing strength against the monster. 

" Go away," cried he to the girl, "or I'll blow your 

brains out." 

"For shame!" said a fellow at his heels, "would you 
shoot a woman?" 

" Yes, her ! " was the reply; " I will shoot any one 

that gets in my way ! " 

Then, with terrible force, he hurled the frail girl against 
the wall, and no further power remained between Ros- 
ser's second barrel and the special object of his rage save 
the slender form of the innocent boy. His weapon was 
leveled, and the bullets went crashing through Johnny's 
heart. Judge Chisolm, seeing his boy thus murdered in 
his arms, seized the gun left by McLellan and sent its 
contents into Rosser's head, scattering his brains against 
the wall. At sight of all this, and from loss of her own 
blood, Cornelia, feeling faint, ran back to her mother, 
who had not yet been able to get through the door, as 
the opening was filled with men who were firing down 
the passage-way at random, in the direction whence the 
shot came that had killed Rosser. In the meantime 
their own bodies were out of range, and consequently 

^^Home Rule'' in Mississippi. 185 

out of danger. Charge after charge of shot, fired in this 
manner, was emptied into the solid wooden casing 
around the cells, and there the deep, ragged gashes 
remain, sickening mementoes of the darkest infamy and 
most disgraceful cowardice ever recorded of beings 
wearing the human form. 

Seeing their leader fall, these miserable creatures 
quailed under the steady gaze of that one man at bay, 
and fled like frightened sheep, dragging the dead body 
of Rosser down the stairs by the heels, and the stair- 
way and hall below were cleared in an instant. The 
mingled blood and brains of this poor wretch were left 
on every stair, from the top to the bottom of the jail. 

Up to this time Mrs. Chisolm did not know that 
Johnny had been killed, and before the mob fled, she 
reached through the grates, and placing her hand on 
Cornelia's head, tried to give her words of encourage- 
ment ; told her to think of her " poor papa," whose life, 
if she continued to be brave, might yet be saved. Again 
the fainting girl rallied and ran to her father, whom she 
found bowed down over the body of his murdered son. 
Just at this moment the mother and Clay came up, and 
together all sank upon the floor, and there over the body 
of that young and martyred hero, there went up a wail 
of agony and despair, such as is seldom heard on earth. 

No time could be lost in weeping. As long as life 
lasted there was hope, and Mrs. Chisolm, as quick in 
expedient as she was brave in the defense of those 
she loved, tried to get her husband into a cell where she 
could exchange clothing with, him, thinking he might 

1 86 TJie CJdsoljn Massacre, 

thus escape in disguise; but this was found to be 
impracticable, as no unoccupied cell could be opened. 

While her mother and father were thus engaged, Cor- 
nelia lifted up the dead body of little Johnny, put out 
the fire which was still burning the clothing on his shat- 
tered arm, and then laid the arm carefully across his 
bleeding breast; kissed again and again the pale cheeks 
and lips; prayed God to give him breath to "speak to 
sissy once more," and then, with her handkerchief, wip- 
ing up the last drop of his precious blood from the floor, 
she carried the lifeless body down the hall and placed 
it behind a cage, where it would be, for the time being, 
secure from further violence. 

Baffled, defeated and driven from the jail, the cowardly 
mob knowing that there was but one man to resist 
them, dare not renew the assault, and a stratagem 
worthy of savages was resorted to. At once the cry of 
"Burn them out!" "the jail is on fire!" fell upon the ears 
of the doomed family. The hall already filled with 
smoke from the burning wads and gunpowder, the pris- 
oners confined in cells, believing that the jail was already 
in flames, began to howl like wild animals in a burning 
amphitheatre, making the whole a scene to have equaled 
in horror Milton or Dante's most extravagant concep- 
tion of hell itself; and it was believed by all that the 
building Avould soon be enveloped in flames. Sooner 
than remain, Cornelia said to her father, " Oh ! papa, see 
how easy poor Mr. McLellan died; it is much better for 
us all to go down and be shot to death, than to stay 
here and be burned alive!" It was then decided to 

""Home Rule'' in Mississippi, 187 

descend the stairs, and take whatever chance of escape 
might be offered. Mrs. Chisolm and Clay, with the dead 
body of Johnny, led the forlorn hope, while the Judge, 
with a gun in his hands and Cornelia's arms around his 
waist, followed close behind. Mrs. Chisolm and Clay 
made the landing below without interference, and laid 
their sorrowful burden upon the floor, but the Judge and 
Cornelia were met before reaching the foot of the stairs 
by Henry Gully, with a gun already presented. Here 
was another door with iron grates, and after seeing 
the immediate danger that threatened her husband, Mrs. 
Chisolm shut this door, while Cornelia shielded her fath- 
er's body with her own, at the same time pulling him 
down out of range, and there, with one arm around his 
neck, the hot, scalding tears mingling with the blood 
that ran down her girlish cheeks, she cried out, " Oh ! 
Mr. Gully, if you must have blood, I pray you to take 
my life and spare my darling papa, who has never done 
you a wrong." 

This appeal was answered with a charge of shot from 
the monster's gun, which struck a heavy gold bracelet on 
the girl's arm, cutting it in two, and driving a piece of the 
ragged metal deep into her wrist. A bullet passed 
entirely through, shattering the bone from the wrist 
nearly to the elbow. The same charge grazed Judge 
Chisolm's neck in several places, and cut off a small 
portion of his nose. Gully then stepped back for 
another gun, when Cornelia, still clinging to her father, 
opened the door and came on down. They had no 
sooner reached the foot of the stairs than the assault 

1 88 TJie CJiisolm Massacre. 

was renewed with increased fury. Still this frail girl, 
shot and bleeding from a score of wounds, clung with 
one arm around her beloved father, while with the other 
hand she pushed aside the guns which were leveled at 
his breast. Where, in any account of remarkable filial 
love, unselfish devotion or great physical daring in 
woman, do we find a picture like this ? Nothing short 
of the Divinity, which is said to have raised up a Joan 
of Arc, could inspire a courage and heroism like that 
displayed by Cornelia Chisolm throughout that fatal day. 
At this time the two Hoppers and Charlie Rosenbaum 
were permitted to come down without arms, and turned 
loose in the street with the threat of instant death if 
either of them sought in any way to release or defend 
Judge Chisolm. The three escaped without injury. 


While Mrs. Chisolm was struggling with the mob at 
the outside entrance, Bill Gully came up and deliberately 
shot at her twice, but a merciful Providence seemed to 
protect her, as neither load took effect. Mrs. Chisolm 
then seized the gun which had been brought down the 
stairs by her husband, and discharged both barrels at 
Gully. The wadding struck him full in the breast and 
fell harmless to the ground. This was one of the guns 
furnished the guards by the sheriff and left by them 
up stairs. It was loaded only with blank cartridges. 

At the suggestion of his wife, Judge Chisolm now 
turned to walk down the hall in rear of the stairs to take 
shelter behind a pile of goods belonging to Mr. Gilmer, 
which had been taken from him by the sheriff and there 
stowed away. Before this cover was reached, Phil Gully 
stepped out from a door opening into the hall, and, with 
a heavy hickory stick uplifted — the same that he carries 
to-day — advanced toward Judge Chisolm, as if to strike 
him down ; but, by this time, shots had been fired into 
his body from front and rear, and Phil was deprived of 
the satisfaction of giving the finishing touch to this 
scene in the drama; for the Judge, at that moment, sank 
upon the floor, begging that he might be carried to his 
house and not permitted to die like a felon in jail. 
Believing that their work had been fully accomplished, 
the mob left, and coolly awaited further developments 
from the outside. 

190 TJie Chisolin Massacre, 

While Mrs. Chisolm was bending over her husband's 
prostrate body in momentary expectation of catching 
the last words that fell from his lips before the spirit 
took its flight, the Judge, in a low whisper, said: '■''My 
precious wife^ I am about to die ; but, when I am go^ie, 
I want you to tell my children that their father never did 
an act in his life for which they need to blush or feel 
ashamed. I am innocent of the charge these 'jnen have 
preferred against me, and have been murdered because 
I am a republican and would live a free man /" 

Cornelia, who, in the melee before descending the 
stairs, had been struck in the face by some brutal hand, 
which, in addition to the gun-shot wounds already 
received, had blackened and disfigured her countenance 
in a horrible manner, now went to the door to beg for 
assistance to carry her father's and little brother's dead 
bodies home. This appeal was answered by a shot 
which struck her below the knee. Fifteen large duck- 
shot and one buck-shot were thus lodged in her leg, 
while another passed through the counter of her shoe 
into the foot. This was overlooked in the multiplicity 
of her other injuries and never was discovered until after 
her death, though before that time her heel had become 
very much swollen and inflamed, when upon examination 
of the shoe the place where the shot entered was found. 
A missile of some kind also struck her hip, causing a 
severe and painful sore. Her bonnet strings, which were 
tied in a bow knot under her chin, were nearly severed 
by a shot which thus narrowly missed her throat. These 
ribbons only hung together by the hem on one side, 

^^ Home Rule'' in Mississippi. 191 

three separate balls having passed through them. 
Thirty bullet holes were counted in the skirts of her 
clothing, which was a mass of blood, from the little 
silk hood she wore on her head, down to her shoes. 
On receiving the last charge she ran back to her mother 
exclaiming, " O ! mamma, they have shot me again ! " 
This was the first and only exclamation she made 
throughout, concerning her own wounds. Mrs. Chisolm 
then went to the door and in turn begged for assistance, 
while Cornelia stood bleeding over the inanimate forms 
of her father and brother. Presently a young man 
stepped forward from the mob and volunteered his 
services. Mrs. Chisolm, still in full possession of her 
quick faculties, said to him, pointing to the body of her 
husband, ".Sir! did you do that?" 

" No, madam," was the reply. Then pointing to her 
dead boy and bleeding girl she asked, "Did you do 

"No!" was the second answer; "I have not dis- 
charged a gun to-day." 

" Then," said the heroic woman, " your touch will not 
pollute the dead bodies of my darlings, and, if you will, 
you may help me carry them from this terrible place ! " 

Stooping down, Mrs. Chisolm raised her husband's 
head and placed his arms around her neck. Clay lifted 
his feet, while the young took hold in the middle, 
and together they started for the house, not more than a 
hundred yards distant. When out ot the jail they were 
joined by Bob Moseley — better known as "Black Bob" 
— a man whom Mrs. Chisolm and Clay both knew very 

192 TJie Chisolni Massacre, 

well, and whom they had seen foremost among the riot- 
ers throughout the day. Loathsome as his presence 
was, they permitted him to become a bearer in the 
mournful procession, as they could not well proceed 
without him. When about half the distance to the 
house there arose a fresh cry from the mob, whose 
vengeful thirst, it appears, had not yet been fully satis- 
fied. " He is not dead yet," they said ; " let's go and 
finish him!" Seeing them come, headed by a brute 
named Dan McWhorter, Cornelia lingered behind, and, 
as they came up, with her shattered arm raised to 
heaven, she declared that her father had died before 
leaving the jail, and besought them not to mangle his 
dead body. By this declaration and appeal they were 
deceived and turned back. 

Reaching the house, it was found locked and the ser- 
vants all gone. A small window from a back porch was 
broken open and the Judge's helpless body dragged 
through it into the house. With no domestics, and 
everything securely locked, great difficulty and delay 
were experienced in finding anything for the relief of the 
wounded. Dr. McClanahan, a near neighbor and life- 
long friend of the family, although a feeble old man, 
came in and rendered all the assistance in his power. 
With the aid of two negroes he carried home the corpse 
of the murdered boy, Henry Gully remarking to him as 
he gathered the body up, " Doctor, I have killed your 
best friend" meaning Judge Chisolm. Cornelia was 
placed upon a low bed, in the same room with her 
father, and while Mrs. Chisolm was busy preparing 

'■^Honie Rule'' in Mississippi. 193 

something for their comfort in another part of the house, 
Bob Moseley returned, and uninvited walked into the 
room where the victims lay. Cornelia, believing that he 
had been sent back by the mob to ascertain if her father 
was really dead, or likely to die, rose from the bed and 
drove him out of the room. It was subsequently ascer- 
tained that he did, in fact, return for the purpose divined 
by the girl, as his confederates, it has since been learned, 
condemned him for having aided in carrying the dying 
man away, knowing that life was not yet extinct, Moseley 
was therefore desirous of reinstating himself in their con- 
fidence and esteem. Besides, he had been once admitted 
into the house, and was, they believed, a suitable person 
to return for information concerning the extent of Judge 
Chisolm's wounds, which, if not fatal, were to have been 
made the signal for another attack. 

On examination, the Judge's worst wound was found 
in his left hip, where a full charge of buck-shot entered 
from the rear. 

Several different men living in DeKalb, all of whom 
were known to have been active participants in the con- 
spiracy, came to the house that evening, and, professing 
friendship and sympathy, offered their assistance. As 
might be supposed, their offers were rejected. Dr. Fox, 
the only competent surgeon in the place, or anywhere 
within immediate reach, was known to have been one of 
the instigators of the riot, as he had been a counselor, if 
not a member of the Ku-Klux in days past; and as a 
matter of course none of the family would voluntarily 
place themselves within his power. 

194 ^/^^ CJiisolni Massacre. 

Thus they were shut out from sympathy or aid, save 
that which came from a few friends, the greater number 
of whom were beyond reach, on account of the distance 
they lived from DeKalb, or because of the barriers which 
the threats of the mob interposed. 

Those who came were faithful and true, but unfor- 
tunately but few were skilled or experienced as nurses, 
and what made the situation still more alarming, the 
necessary means for relief or comfort were not always to 
be obtained. 

About ten o'clock that night. Judge Chisolm's two 
brothers, John and Marbury, and two or three of his 
young nephews arrived from the southwest beat, a dis- 
tance of twenty-two miles, to which place a courier had 
been despatched for them by the Judge early in the 
morning, when his arrest was first made. 

Some hours before their arrival, Henry Rosenbaum, a 
brother of Charlie Rosenbaum, in answer to a des- 
patch sent him in the morning at Meridian, had gone to 
Scooba and thence to DeKalb. On arriving at the 
scene of the massacre, he proceeded at once to Judge 
Chisolm's house, where he rendered every assistance 
possible. He had come to DeKalb in anticipation of 
aiding his brother. 

All of these friends had been compelled to travel by 
an unfrequented and circuitous route; were all day on 
the road, and knew nothing of the terrible fate of the 
family, until their arrival at Judge Chisolm's house, too 
late to render such material aid as they would gladly 
have done. All that could be, with the means at hand, 

'■'Home Rule'' in Mississippi. 195 

was done for the sufferers through the night, and early 
on the following morning the despatch which is copied 
below was sent to Meridian : 

"ScooBA, Miss., April 30, 1877. 

Received at Meridian, April 30, 8:15 A. M. 
To Capt. J. M. Wells : 

Come to us immediately, by the way of Scooba, and 
bring the best surgeon you can get. Brother Johnny is 
murdered, and father will die. Sister is badly wounded. 

H. Clay Chisolm." 

Up to the time of the receipt of this despatch in 
Meridian, the reports concerning the massacre were 
wild and conflicting; the anxiety with the few who sym- 
pathized was great, while the excitement incident to the 
terrible affair in a neighboring town, where most of the 
parties concerned were well known, was general. The 
despatch was answered at once, as follows: 
*'To H. C. Chisolm, DeKalb, Miss.: 

No train this morning; will bring surgeon across the 
country immediately. 

J. M. Wells." 

Two different surgeons whom the writer requested to go, 
made excuses of one kind or another. Finally Dr. John 
D. Kline was asked, and at once consented, but after- 
ward sought an opportunity of getting from some prom- 
inent democratic citizen a letter of introduction, a pass- 
port or safe-guard of some kind, against molestation by 
the citizens of Kemper, while on his way to DeKalb, 
and a guarantee of protection after his arrival. This he 
obtained from a gentleman well known and highly 
esteemed by the Gullys and their co-workers. Even 

196 The Chisolni Massacre. 

after this precaution, the doctor objected to going with 
the writer, as the latter was well known in DeKalb as a 
political and personal friend of Judge Chisolm. An 
effort was then made to find some one whose known 
friendship with the Kemper County murderers would 
afford protection. There were many of this kind in 
Meridian, but out of the dozen or more who were 
approached, not one would go. There was in Meridian 
at the time, however, an under-current of strong and 
earnest sympathy for the distressed family. At last a 
colored barber who had once lived in DeKalb, and who 
knew the road well, volunteered to go as a driver, and 
with him Dr. Kline started across the country, while the 
writer took the first train for Scooba, arriving in DeKalb 
the next day, after having ridden from Scooba thirteen 
miles through the woods alone. The doctor reached 
Judge Chisolm's house at ten o'clock that night, and 
found the condition of the father and daughter not so 
iminently dangerous as had been at first reported. 
More than twenty-four hours had passed since the 
wounds were inflicted, however, and it was impossible to 
probe Judge Chisolm's wounds, to ascertain their full ex- 
tent, yet the physician and all friends of the family were 
encouraged to believe that he might recover. A thorough 
examination was made of Cornelia's injuries, which she 
bore without a murmur. They were severe and exceed- 
ingly painful, but no one at the time believed them 

The next morning Mrs. Chisolm, herself, prepared little 
Johnny's body, which had lain in the parlor alone over 

'^ Home Rule'' in Mississippi, 197 

night, for the grave. The coffin came from Scooba, and 
after carrying the body to Corneha's bed-side, she 
kissed the pale cheeks again and again, when it was 
placed in the coffin, and Willie, accompanied by two or 
three friends — all who could be spared from the house — 
took it off and buried it. A prayer offered at the house 
by the agonized mother, was the only service held. 

The same day Judge Robert Leachman, with two 
ladies — Mrs. Christian and Miss Caskin — friends of 
Cornelia, arrived from Meridian. They, however, could 
not remain but a short time, and that same day the 
doctor himself was obliged to return. 

In the shadows of death, like birds of prey, they 
hovered nigh, impatient of the final dissolution, and 
hearing repeated threats of a renewal of the attack by 
the mob as soon as they should find that Judge Chisolm 
was not likely to die from the wounds already received, 
a close watch was kept at night from without, while a 
dozen loaded guns were always ready for use within. 
For better security, planks were nailed up at the bed- 
room windows. The mental strain and anxiety incident 
to all this, together with the inability to secure prompt 
and constant medical attendance, materially lessened the 
chances for recovery, and it was determined to remove 
the patients to some place of safety as soon as a force 
could be raised sufficiently large to insure the success of 
such an undertaking. 

But this it was found difficult to do, as Judge Chis- 
olm's friends living in the county, who had attempted to 
come to the assistance of the sufferers, had, in many 

198 The Chisolm Massacre, 

instances, been stopped on the highway and made to 
turn back, so that now very few ventured to come. Mrs. 
Griffin and her sister, Miss McDevitt, were the only 
ladies in DeKalb, outside of the poHtical friends of the 
family, that ever pretended to approach the house. 
They came constantly and rendered invaluable assistance. 
A young man living some distance in the country, 
although a democrat, visited the house once and volun- 
teered to assist in guarding it, or in taking the patients 
to some place of safety. Another gentleman, a resident 
of DeKalb, and also a democrat, came several times in 
the night, and under cover of the darkness stole away, 
fearing to have it 4<:nown that he sympathized with them 
in their affliction. 

About the third day Governor Powers arrived from 
Macon. The Governor remained but a day or two, 
when he returned, determined, if possible, to raise a 
posse and send them to our assistance. Before Gov- 
ernor Powers left, however, J. M. Stone, the governor of 
the State, came. He told the writer, while sitting on 
the steps of Judge Chisolm's house, that, after thorough 
inquiry among all parties, he had been convinced that 
there was a conspiracy existing in the county for the 
purpose of taking Judge Chisolm's life; that he did not 
believe there had ever been found a particle of proof 
showing the complicity of the murdered man with the 
killing of John W. Gully, and that in his belief the very 
warrants for their arrest were false and fraudulent. He 
further stated he did not believe that Judge Chisolm was 
free from the danger of another attack by the mob, if 

''Home Rule'' in Mississippi. 199 

once it was thought he was likely to recover or get 
away. On being asked if he could do anything in the 
way of assuring the family protection while they might 
remain, or a safeguard in moving, he replied that he 
could only direct the sheriff to appoint a special deputy, 
who might be selected by Judge Chisolm or any of his 
friends. Under this deputy a number of guards, suffi- 
ciently large to insure protection, and chosen in the 
same manner, might be placed at his disposal. To this 
the reply was made that there was nothing to select a 
guard from, for the very good reason that all the friends 
Judge Chisolm had within reach were already enlisted, 
and they needed no appointment from an imbecile and 
villainous sheriff. Beside that, the experience with 
guards, taken from among the citizens of Kemper county 
generally, within the past few days at least, had been 
such as to warrant us in not again voluntarily placing 
him or his family under their protection — which would 
most likely be such as vultures give to lambs. 


The patients both grew weaker from day to day, and 
Cornelia was removed into an adjoining room. Her 
solicitude for the welfare of her father knew no rest up 
to the hour of his death, and often was she quieted with 
the promise that on the following day she would be 
carried to his bed-side ; but as often were we obliged to 
disappoint her, as she was never in a condition to be 

The physician did not return from Meridian until a 
peremptory order was sent for him. What were the 
influences that kept him away no one ever knew. The 
wounded had then suffered three days without any 
skilled attention. 

Within five days from the date of the tragedy every 
mail that came brought letters of condolence and 
sympathy, most of them coming from entire strangers, 
but many written by the friends and admirers of the 
bright and joyous girl, whom she had met while on 
her visit to the North. From the Northern States, 
especially, the warmest letters came, while the news- 
papers of that section thundered the indignation felt by 
the people in tones which could not be misunderstood. 

It was the privilege of the writer of this to open and 
read many of these letters, and in the lonely hours of 
Cornelia's prostration, they were a source of great satis- 
faction and delight to her. Many of them, at her 

''^ Hovie Rule" in Mississippi. 201 

request, were replied to at once and the answers read to 
her. Then her face would light up with a sweet smile 
as she would say, " Now lay them carefully away, and 
some day, if I ever get well, I will answer them all 

A few of these letters, given here, cannot fail to inter- 
est the reader, as they are a further proof of the feeling 
and sentiment of the people in that section of the 
country from which they came; and it is a great grati- 
fication to me and to all the friends of the martyred 
dead, to be able to place upon record here the fact that 
human nature is not everywhere dead to that boasted 
sympathy which has so often been falsely claimed for it. 

Washington, D. C, May 2, 1877. 
My Dear Miss Chisolin : 

I have read the newspaper reports of your sorrows 
with a sad heart, and hasten to express my sincere sym- 
pathy. My husband regarded your father as one of the 
kindest hearted men living, incapable of injuring his 
worst enemy. In conversing with Judge T. this morning, 
he made the same remark, and said it was impossible 
that your father could in any way be connected with 
the assassination. 

I have been thinking of the last time I saw you; you 
remarked " I was never so happy in my life," and now to 
think of the contrast. What can I say to comfort you ? 
Words cannot express the deep sorrow and sympathy I 
feel for you at this moment. If I could only be with 
you — take you in my arms and try to soothe your sor- 
rows, how gladly would I do it — but words are cold. 
I can only commend you to lean on Him who loves you 
better than earthly friends, and whose tender love and 
compassion will never fail you. In all my own troubles 

202 The CJiisolm Massacre, 

this has been my comfort, that " Like as a father pitieth 
his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him." 

How is your dear mother? No doubt well nigh 
crushed by her many troubles. As younger and stronger, 
a double duty falls to you ; that of tenderly caring for 
both father and mother. I pray that you may have 
strength for the burden thus suddenly laid upon you. 

After you are calm enough to write I would like to 
hear all about the matter; in the meantime please inform 
me, by postal card, what are the probabilities in your 
father's case? Will he recover? I most earnestly pray 
that he will. Assure him of my confidence in his perfect 

integrity and innocence. Judge T wishes me to 

convey to you and your family his sympathy in your 
terrible affliction. 

I was disappointed in not again seeing your father and 
self before you left Washington ; but felt sure that you 
failed to find my residence. 

My kindest regards to your father and mother, and 
much love for your own dear self. 

Lovingly yours, 

Mrs. J. L. R. 

This excellent letter was followed within a day or two 
by another from the same kind author. The two were 
read to Cornelia, and at her request the subjoined, writ- 
ten at the bed-side of the patient sufferer, was sent in 
reply. This communication soon after found its way 
into the newspapers of the country, and will be recog- 
nized, no doubt, by many readers : 

DeKalb, Miss., May 12. 

Madame: At the request of Miss Nelie Chisolm, 

whose wounds render it impossible for her to write, I 

serve as her amanuensis. She takes great pleasure in 

acknowledging the receipt of your kind letters, which 

''Home Rule'' in Mississippi, 203 

have come to hand since the DeKalb horror took place, 
and let me assure you your kindness is appreciated. I 
have had the pleasure of opening your letters and reading 
them to her, and from your writing judge that you do 
not know the brave and devoted little daughter was 
shot, beaten and mangled equally with the father. Her 
right arm was shot through and through while endeavor- 
ing to shield her father. A whole charge of buck-shot, 
which first hit the flat iron bars of the cell, struck her 
full in the face, filling it with chips of lead and burnt 
powder. A blow in the face from some brutal hand has 
blackened and disfigured it in a fearful manner. She 
was also shot in the leg below the knee, and is now 
lying prostrate and helpless as an infant, and nothing 
but the tenderest care and best surgical aid can save her 
arm and precious life. Her father is still alive, but 
suffering intensely; yet we have some hopes of his final 
recovery. The house is being guarded by a few faithful 
friends and relatives ; but we do not know at what hour 
the savage barbarians may renew the attack. You can 
do us all no more good at present than to lay the enor- 
mities of this massacre before the people at Washington, 
especially the President. 

All of these kind letters touched a responsive chord in 
the hearts of that household, and will never be forgotten. 
The effect produced by them will remain with those who 
listened to their hopeful greetings so long as the name of 
Chisolm shall be perpetuated. 

Philadelphia, Penn., May 2, 1877. 
Judge Chisolm : 

In behalf of myself and fellow members, of one of the 
most influential republican clubs in this city, permit us, 
one and all, to offer to yourself and noble family our 
heartfelt, sincere sympathies in this your hour of 

204 The CJiisolni Massacre, 

distress. Would to God we could offer you material pro- 
tection and effective aid. Be of good cheer; keep up 
a stout heart ; and may Heaven hear our prayers for 
your safety. The indignation with which we received 
the news of the murderous attack upon your gallant 
little band, has not yet subsided, and were the distance 
not so great you should sit beneath the shadow of 
fifteen hundred breech-loading rifles, (the number of our 
club). Oh ! for just a few minutes' interview with those 
cowardly miscreants who think it so chivalrous and 
brave to murder defenceless Union men. Let them 
remember that although " the mills of God grind slowly, 
yet they grind exceeding small," and that the avenging 
goddess will, at no distant day, blot them out. The 
people here at the North are beginning to talk as they 
'did in '6i, and it is among the possible things to have 
" Sherman's march " repeated. 

If you, or any of your family, will communicate to me 
a full and fearless account of the events in which you 
have all been such prominent actors, my thanks will be 
of a substantial nature. A friend at my elbow has 
suggested that if you are in need of fire-arms, be good 
enough to give us the name and address of a trusted 
friend. In the meantime, we all hope for your speedy 
recovery, and if there is any way in which we can serve 
you or yours, do us the favor to make it known at once. 
Pardon this disjointed epistle, for I am laboring under 
some excitement from having just finished the details of 
your martyrdom, which will account for my rambling 
thoughts and tremulous chirography. 

Accept, again, our sympathies and well-wishes, while 
our prayers, we trust, are registered above for you all. 

Yours sincerely, V. P. 

The above was responded to at the time by the 
request of Judge Chisolm himself and other members of 

''Home Rule'' in Mississippi. 20$ 

the family. Here is the reply to it, which was afterward 
printed in a Philadelphia paper, with editorial comments 
as follows : 


" Throughout the length and breadth of our land the 
hearts of patriotic men and women now turn with deep 
and heartfelt sympathy to the lonely and broken-hearted 
widow, who in her desolate home in Mississippi, grieves 
with a sorrow none can know, and feels most keenly 
that life is indeed a burden, with naught of happiness 
for her. Mrs. W. W. Chisolm now mourns the death of 
a favorite son, a beloved and accomplished daughter and 
a noble and affectionate husband. In the agony of her 
grief she surely is almost tempted to cry unto God and 
say, ' my trials are indeed greater than I can bear.' 

" We cannot give full expression to our thoughts as 
we reflect that the dead are the victims of political 
hatred ; have been hurried to untimely graves because 
of the political opinions of the head of the family. 
Surely their martyrdom will give inspiration to loyal 
men to move in solid column for all time to come, and 
never cease in their efforts on behalf of liberty and the 
republic until every traitor is driven from the land, or 
made to bite the dust at the hand of avenging justice. 

"The story of the attack upon Judge Chisolm, the 
heroic defense on his behalf by his daughter, is too well 
known to our readers to call for repetition here. 
Wounded, she died for want of proper surgical and 
medical treatment, which was denied her by the inhuman 

2o6 TJie CJiisolni Massacre. 

mob which surrounded her. He, too, now sleeps the 
sleep of death. 

" The following letter, written to a prominent citizen 
of this city, is given to our readers, but, for obvious 
reasons, the names of both the writer and the recipient 
are withheld. As will be noticed, it was penned before 
the death of the Judge and his daughter:" 

DeKalb, Miss., May 9, 1877. 
* * * Philadelphia, Pa. : 

Dear Sir: On behalf of Judge Chisolm and his 
bereaved and afflicted family I acknowledge the receipt 
of your favor of the 2d inst., tendering them sympathy 
and encouragement. 

Be assured, my dear sir, that the good wishes and 
thoughtful solicitation of the Republican Club, as 
expressed in your letter, are well understood and 
thoroughly appreciated, and every word therein con- 
tained finds lodgement in warm and responsive hearts. 

As I write, the widow and orphan child of one of the 
victims of the massacre is sitting near by — Mrs. Gilmer 
— almost forsaken by her kindred, whose sympathies are 
with the murderers of her husband. It is needless for 
me to say she is utterly broken-hearted. 

The members of the Judge's family who still survive 
(himself and heroic little daughter) are both lying before 
me, writhing under the affliction of a score of ghastly 
wounds. Both are doing even better than we could 
have hoped, though the Judge's life is despaired of. The 
daughter will probably recover, carrying through life a 
maimed and crippled hand. 

Little Johnny, with one arm shattered to pieces and 
his heart shot out, is sleeping quietly under the ground. 
The house is being guarded by a few faithful friends and 

^^Hoine Rule'' in Mississippi. 207 

relatives, who are well supplied with shot-guns and 
revolvers, and will struggle to hold out against the fearful 
odds of " home rule and local self-government." 

The family stand in no immediate need of assistance 
of any kind ; yet God only knows how soon they may 
be stripped of all earthly goods, and themselves, with 
others, driven like beasts to the woods and there 

We shall be pleased to hear from you at any and all 
times, and would gladly detail the full particulars of this , 
bloody affair, which, in all its plottings and final consum- 
mation, is more diabolical, cowardly and inhuman than 
the Mountain Meadows massacre itself. 

You can probably do us no greater good just now 
than to aid in every possible way to spread the horrors 
of this affair before the northern people, and at the same 
time let us all pray to God that the " hope " of a renewal 
of Sherman's march may yet be a reality. Again thank- 
ing you, I will close. 4^ 4, ^ ^ 

Bristol, Penn., May 8, 1877. 
Dear Miss Chisolm: 

In your great sorrow, affliction and bereavement, which 
must be almost insupportable, silent sympathy with you, 
on our part, would probably be better; but for the reason 
that we know that no earthly comfort can avail, would 
we write commending you and yours to the merciful care 
and support of our Heavenly Father. He will not 
utterly desert us, though allowing us to be sorely 
afflicted and bereaved. 

We have prayed for you constantly since learning all, 
tha,t God, in his infinite mercy, may restore your father 
to life, and succor and enable you to get away from that 
dreadful country. 

I wrote to the New York Times, and hope that a 
thorough investigation will take place, and a severe 

2o8 The Chisohn Massacre, 

punishment be meted out to the murderers and assassins. 
Some time they will get their deserts, you may rest 
assured. God's hand is not shortened ! 

Bear up in this great trial of your life, our dear friend. 
Do not give way to despair, but commit all to God, and 
light and comfort will come at last. 

Be assured of our deepest sympathy ; and the Lord 
take care of you and yours, is the fervent prayer of your 
sorrowing friends, Mr. and Mrs. T. H. 

New Orleans, May 6, 1877. 
Cornelia Chisolm: 

Respected Miss : Please excuse the liberty taken to 
address you. I am very sorry to hear of the death of 
your father and brother. I hope you are not badly 
wounded. Should you need any assistance let me know, 
and I v/ill do all in my power for you. I am a republi- 
can and a gentleman, in every sense of the word. Should 
you be in need of a home, my house is at your service. 

Wishing you may soon be well, allow me to remain 
very respectfully, G. M. L. 

Sullivan, III., May 21, 1877. 
Miss Chisolm*. 

Please pardon my boldness in thus addressing you, 
but I could not resist after reading an account of the 
troubles lately in your place. My desire is to find out 
whether or not the enclosed account is true. I had the 
pleasure of visiting your town in 1874, looking out a 
location, but was not entirely satisfied with the climate. 
You will confer a great favor on me if you will give me 
the facts regarding the matter enclosed ; and I further 
assure you not one word will be made public without 
your consent. 

Please honor me with a reply. Very respectfully, 

T. B. S. 

'■^ Home Rule'' in Mississippi, 209 

Newport, R. L, May 13, 1877. 
Miss Chisolm: 

Pray do not consider it an unpardonable liberty when 
I, unknown, write to you to express my deep admiration 
of your brave conduct. I trust, with all my heart, it is 
not necessary for me to add words of condolence. Please 
pardon me, for I believe I shall feel better all my life for 
having even so much to do with such a brave, devoted 
daughter. But if my writing is to be excused, I suppose 
it must be because it needs no notice, so I shall write 
no more. Believe me, I am yours, very humbly, 

H. T. a 

Lincoln, Nebraska, May 15, 1877. 
Miss Cornelia Chisolm : 

Dear Friend : Although an entire stranger to you I 
trust that I may yet address you as friend. 

I have just been reading, in a Chicago paper, a descrip- 
tion of the dastardly assault made by the mob upon 
your father, and of the heroic resistance made by him 
and yourself. Although my own work in this w^orld is 
to repeat the proclamation made by the angels to the 
shepherds on the plains — " Peace on earth, good will to 
man" — yet I felt a good degree of satisfaction when I 
learned that at least one of the mob had been made to 
bite the dust. Surely those men must have been dead 
to all sense of honor and to all the finer feelings of 
human nature. I have read many accounts of mob 
violence practiced upon the poor negroes in the South; 
but I do not remember to have read one that equalled in 
inhumanity this assault upon your father. 

It is my sincere hope that your wounded father is still 
alive and that he may entirely recover. It is sad to lose 
a parent, but doubly sad to lose one by the hand of 
savage men. 

You will pardon me for saying it, but your heroism on 


210 The Chisolni Massacre, 

that occasion has challenged my admiration. Few 
young ladies would have had the nerve to face a crowd 
of such desperate men. But you did it in devotion to a 
father whose life was dear to you as your own, and for 
this I honor you. I sincerely hope that your wounds 
may speedily heal, and that your brave right hand may 
not be seriously or permanently injured. 

As I read the account of the brutal deeds of those 
men, and of their threats of further violence, my heart 
was touched, and I wished earnestly that I might be of 
service to you in your hour of sore trial. 

If these lines, hastily written, will in any degree 
encourage you I shall only be too glad. If I could help 
you in any other way I would do so. Be assured that, 
though a stranger, and hundreds of miles away, my 
sympathies and my prayers are with you. 

Your friend, S. M. C, 

Pastor Bapt, Church, 

Fort Dodge, Iowa, May 17, 1877. 
Miss Cornelia Chisolm: 

I have just read in the New York Tribune, of May 
nth, an account of the most atrocious barbarism it has 
been my lot to read in connection with southern politics. 
Will you kindly allow me to tender you my profound 
sympathy, and to express the .hope that happiness may 
still be in store for your wounded parent. Your conduct 
I cannot sufficiently admire. I have seen few women 
whom I think would have had the courage you dis- 
played. I trust your wounds may be speedily cured and 
no permanent injury to yourself be sustained. Again 
allow me to express my appreciation of your noble and 
heroic conduct. I am yours tespectfully, 

Chas. E. T. 

^'Home Rule'' in Mississippi, 211 

Terre Haute, Ind., May 10, 1877. 
Miss Chisolm: 

I have read with the deepest interest Mr. Smalle>A's 
account, in the New York Tribune, of your heroism and 
sufferings, and I cannot refrain from offering you a 
stranger s appreciation and sympathy. Such rare courage 
as you have shown must awaken the deepest interest 
everywhere in the North. I know from personal expe- 
rience the depraved condition of society in parts of your 
State, and I can comprehend somewhat the trials through 
which you have passed. Pardon me if I intrude bpon 
your grief; I only want to say a kindly word which will 
tell you that you have many friends whose faces you 
have never seen. If you could spare the time, at a later 
day, to send me a line, telling me of the result of your 
own and your father's injuries, you will receive the grati- 
tude of one who, though a stranger, will always be your 
friend. O. J. S. 

The answer to the above afterward appeared in the 
Terre Haute Express. It is copied below : 

DeKalb, Miss., May 14, 1877. 

Dear Sir: I am requested by Miss Nelie Chisolm and 
others of the family, to return thanks for your kind favor 
to them of a recent date. Your expressions of sympathy 
and regard are highly appreciated, and at some future 
time, should the life of the poor girl be spared, she will 
take pleasure in acknowledging her gratitude in some 
more substantial manner. Her father died Sunday eve- 
ning last, at eight o'clock. She is yet unconscious of the 
fact, and her physician says that the only hope for her is 
in keeping the terrible truth to ourselves. It is beyond 
the power of language to describe the affliction and dis- 
tress which has been experienced in this family since 
that dark and bloody Sabbath. The savage coolness 

212 The Chisolni Massacre, 

with which the plot was matured for the destruction of 
the victims, is not surpassed in the annals of crime since 
the beginning of the world. While Mr. Smalley's letter 
contains some truths, when taken as a whole it is a farce, 
and I am surprised that a Northern man, coming here 
upon the ground, should not have taken some pains to 
obtain the whole truth, and, obtaining it, have the man- 
hood to publish it. 

Judge Chisolm had as noble and true a heart as ever 
beat in the breast of man. He was judge of probate 
of his own county before the war, and was re-elected to 
that responsible position by the unanimous vote of the 
people immediately after its close. He has raised an 
elegant and refined family, and what better proof do 
you need of their appreciation of his virtues and good- 
ness, than to know that every one of them, from his 
innocent little boy thirteen years of age, up to the tender 
and delicate wife, followed him to the jail, where he had 
been induced to go by connivance of the. sheriff, under 
promise of a safeguard ; and then, under the shadow of 
its blackened walls, when they were assailed by three hun- 
dred yelling savages, fought for the husband and father 
with a desperation and heroism which ought to have 
palsied the most brutal arm. The sight of the little 
daughter, shot, beaten and mangled in a most shocking 
manner, is proof enough, it seems to me, to convince the 
world that there must have been something in the heart 
of the father, now dead, better than ordinarily falls to 
the lot of man. 

The work of that Sabbath day is the culmination of a 
scheme which has been on foot here for seven years, and 
for no other purpose than that "democracy" should have 
ascendancy in the county. The scenes enacted here on 
the twenty-ninth of April are liable to be repeated any- 
where in the State when any considerable number of 
republicans may see fit to organize. If you could have 

^^ Home Rule'' in Mississippi. 213 

any sort of conception of the indignities and dangers 
through which Judge Chisolm and his family had to 
pass last fall during the canvass, to say nothing of every 
preceding canvass for the past seven years, you would 
be compelled to relinquish at once all hope or faith in a 
government tolerating such enormities. ^ ^ ^ 

East Mississippi Female College, 
Meridian, May 13, 1877. 
My Darling Friend: 

Don't censure me, please, for not writing to you before. 
I expect you have thought it strange that the one who 
professed herself to be your greatest and truest friend 
has forsaken you in the hour of darkness, when the 
clouds of trouble hung thickly o'er you and your devoted 
family. Believe me, Nelie, the reason I have not written 
before is, that my heart was too full of sorrow, and I 
felt bowed down with such excruciating pain to think 
of my loved friend suffering so much. Indeed I sym- 
pathize with you deeply. It is with anxiety that I 
hear your hand is worse ; you must be suffering agony. 
If I could be with you and help care for you. I under- 
stand that the Christians have been very kind. It 
requires misfortune to show us our true friends. I heard 
of your bravery with great pride, for I understood so 
well your affectionate love for your father, and knew so 
well how outraged you felt. These are mere words, yet 
they come directly from my own heart, but they seem 
void when compared with what I would express. If it 
was in my power I would come to you at once. This 
you know is impossible, as our school soon closes, and so 
much is expected of me. Nevertheless, I hope I will be 
able to see you anyway as soon as it does close, which 
will not be long. All the girls sympathize with you 
deeply, and desire me to assure you of their sincerity. I 
will write soon again, my darling. May the Lord, "who 

214 ^/^^^ CJiisolm Massacre. 

keepeth His people in the hollow of His hand," watch 
over you and your afflicted family during this time of 
trouble, and provide for your comfort ; for " He doeth all 
things well." Believe me your ever devoted friend. 


Meridian, Miss., May i6, 1877. 
My dear suffering friend : 

The telegraphic wires brought us the doleful and 
heart-rending news, yesterday, of our sweet Cornelia's 
death. We had previously heard that her father had left 
us. Oh ! what a woe is thine, my darling friend ! 

This is to let you know that in all of your sorrow I 
have been grieved, and have been to the altar with the 
petition that the Healer will be with you and enable you 
to " pass under the rod " with safety, with your armour 
brightened and your sandals buckled on, ready for the 
future contest with the evil one. Dear madam, I pray 
that this mountain of your troubles may flow down like 
a plain at His bidding, who holds in his hand the destiny 
of nations ; and cordially join in St. Paul's prayer that 
this present affliction, which is but for a moment, will 
work out for you a far more exceeding and eternal weight 
of glory. 

Ah, me ! what shall I say about my dear, sweet child, 
Cornelia ? I can't write about her. 1 will only say, come 
expressive silence and tell my woe ; for, if I had the pen 
of an Archangel, I could not make known what I feel. 

Mrs. L and all the children join me in tendering 

to you and your two children their heart -felt sympathy. 
Mrs. L requested me to say to you if she could pos- 
sibly leave home, at this time, she would gladly come to 
your house and try and console you by her presence. 
Poor F ! she was so hurt about our dear Cornelia. 

We heard, yesterday, that Captain Wells was sick. I 
do trust that it is nothing serious. Give him my kindest 
regards. I hope he will soon be well again. 

^'- Home Rule'' in Mississippi. ^15 

With my prayers for your future happiness, I will have 
to sink silently into a signature, M. S. B. 

Washington, D. C, May 23, 1877. 
Mrs. W. W. Chisolm: 

Dear Madam : I do not write expecting to be able to 
speak to your sorrowing heart any words of consolation, 
or to say anything which will lighten your heavy burden 
of grief, but I want you to know that the people of the 
whole country grieve with and for you. I have just 
received a letter from a gentleman in Ohio, who called 
with me upon your late husband and daughter while 
they were in the city. The gentleman begs me to write 
you and ask for your dear lost daughter's picture, and I 
assure you it could not be given into more worthy or 
patriotic hands. If you can do so, will you not send me 
one also ? I want to show it to the Secretary of War, 
with whom I am somewhat acquainted. I called upon 
the President, Attorney-General and Secretary of War, 
while you were surrounded by that terrible mob which 
prevented you from taking your loved ones to a place of 
safety. Before any decisive steps could be taken, a hand 
more powerful than a mob released them. We mourn 
with you for them, and for you in your great sorrow. If 
it is not too sad a task, will you write me? If you 
have a picture of the Judge, will you send it to me? I 
will take it to Brady and have his portrait hung among 
the nation's honored dead. My friend from Ohio, Mr. 
S. M. L., who wants Miss Cornelia's picture, is a personal 
friend of the President and General Garfield. I hope I 
may sometime see you, and be able to speak of the many 
pleasant hours I spent with your dear ones here in 

Hoping to hear from you soon, and that you will have 
strength to bear your terrible affliction, I am your friend 
in a mutual sorrow, Mrs. H. H. S, 


Up to the hour of her death Cornelia would spurn 
with contempt any good wishes tendered her that did 
not carry with them the same feeling for her father, and 
the very last act of her life was to tear out the leaves of 
her autograph album on which were written the names 
of young gentlemen whom she had reason to believe 
were in sympathy with her father's enemies. 

Six or eight days had passed when Capt. Shaughnessy 
and Major McMichael, friends of Judge Chisolm, came 
from Jackson. A plan was then entered into for carry- 
ing the wounded to some place where they might at 
least be free from the fear of a night attack by the mob, 
and accordingly Mrs. Chisolm addressed the following 
appeal to Governor Stone : 

To Hon. J. M. Stone, Governor of Mississippi: 

Sir : Believing you to be humane and desirous of 
preventing the needless effusion of blood, I most humbly 
and respectfully appeal to you for aid in protecting my 
husband and children, until such time as I am able, with 
those of them whom God in his mercy may spare to me, 
to leave the county and their home. If you can aid me 
in behalf of my wounded and dying husband and 
daughter, I would ask that Capt. M. Shaughnessy, of 
Jackson, be authorized to raise a body of men suffi- 
ciently large to protect and remove us to some place of 
safety. Respectfully, 

Mrs. W. W. Chisolm. 

This letter Capt. Shaughnessy carried with him to 
Jackson, where he hoped to meet the governor. On his 

^'' Home Rule'' in Mississippi, 217 

arrival there he found that Mr. Stone had gone to 
Natchez, and to that place Capt. Shaughnessy then des- 
patched the contents of the letter, to which the governor 
replied by telegraph as follows : 

To M. Shaughnessy, Jacksc^, Miss.: 

I cannot consent to your proposition to go to Kemper 
county with a body of armed men. I will return as 
soon as possible. J. M. Stone. 

Ready to take advantage of any circumstance, no 
matter how trifling, to detract from the real facts con- 
cerning the outrage, and, as it would appear, add to its 
horrors by persecuting any one who might openly 
express a feeling of sympathy for the sufferers, a scurri- 
lous article charging Capt. Shaughnessy with duplicity 
in manifesting so much interest in their behalf, came 
out in the Vicksburg Herald. To this editorial Capt. 
Shaughnessy replied through the columns of the Com- 
mercial, another paper published in the place, branding 
the charge as false and infamous. His reply resulted in 
a challenge from Mr. Charles Wright, editor of the 
Herald, to fight a duel. The proposition was promptly 
accepted. The challenged party having the selection of 
weapons and ground, Capt. Shaughnessy chose navy 
pistols at ten paces, and named the Louisiana shore 
near by as the place of combat, and thither, in company 
with two or three friends and a surgeon, he at once 
repaired. After having waited for many hours in vain 
for the appearance of the belligerent newspaper disciple, 
it was ascertained that Wright, for some reason, had 
lingered in Vicksburg until arrested and placed under 

21 8 The Chisolm Alas s acre* 

bond to keep the peace. Hearing of this little act of 
diplomacy, Shaughnessy's friends returned to the city, 
and, without delay, put a check for the amount of 
Wright's recognizance at the disposal of his bondsmen, 
thus setting him at liberty to fight or "back down" 
entirely, as the case might be. Some thirty-six hours 
beyond the time for the hostile meeting had passed 
when the Herald chieftain, in suitable war-paint, accom- 
panied by his friends, appeared upon the scene. On 
their arrival the thick gloom of a foggy night on the 
Mississippi set in, and it was thought by the party last 
on the grounds that the darkness would preclude the 
possibility of a passage at "arms until daylight. Capt. 
Shaughnessy's friends objected to another postponement 
on any pretext whatever, contending that fires could be 
built, from the light of which a collision, as fair at least 
for one as the other, could be had. While the commu- 
nications incident to all this were passing and repassing, 
a proposition for the settlement of the difficulty came 
from Wright's seconds. This was finally agreed upon, 
Wright first withdrawing the charges made by him 
through his paper, reflecting upon Shaughnessy, when 
the latter, in turn, recalled the offensive language applied 
to Wright. 

Thus the family were left alone, and without the hope 
of aid; menaced and threatened on every hand by the 
barbarians who surrounded them, thirsting for the little 
blood that remained. The few friends who had come to 
their aid were ready to do and die, if necessary, but 
utterly powerless should the threatened attack be made. 

^^ Home Rule'' m Mississippi. 219 

Is it to be wondered at, then, that we are now called 
upon to record the worst? 

The following private letter, addressed by Mrs. Chis- 
olm to Capt. Shaughnessy, but a few days after his leav- 
ing for Jackson, explains itself and shows something of 
her feelings on the receipt of the intelligence that the 
Governor had expressed his inability or unwillingness to 
assist her: 

DeKalb, Miss., May 9th, '77. 
Capt. M. Shaughnessy: 

Kind Friend of my Htisba7id: — I was both grieved 
and surprised to learn through this afternoon's mail, from 
Gov. Stone's Private Secretary, that the Governor refused 
us any protection other than that of F. C. Sinclair, who, 
with the pretense of an arrest, played into the hands of 
the mob. Having great reliance in your judgment, will, 
and fearless bravery, I hasten to communicate the fact 
to you. I hear nothing tending to give me quiet, and 
everything to the reverse. Both husband and daughter 
are suffering severely, more so than when you were here. 

Hoping to hear from you, or better, see you, 
I am very respectfully and gratefully, 

Emily S. M. Chisolm. 

One day, not far from this time, the writer was sitting 
by the bed-side holding Judge Chisolm's hand, when he 
gave the grip of a Master Mason. Thinking that he 
desired to communicate something, I said: 

"Judge, I did not remember that you were a Mason !" 
"Yes," replied he, "I was a Mason, but the men who 
tried to murder me and my children the other day, for a 
long time undertook to force me to renounce my repub- 
licanism and join them in their nefarious political schemes. 

220 TJie C J lis tin Massacre. 

To accomplish this they threatened to expel me from 
the lodge. Failing in that, they sought to blacken my 
character in every possible way, and finally expelled me; 
but even after that I was told by Gully, T. S. Murphy, 
and Charles Bell, all prominent members of the lodge, if 
I would only keep quiet, politically, that I would again 
be restored to honorable membership." 

This is only one of the many affecting incidents which 
occurred during the dark hours preceding the final scene 
of desolation and woe, in witnessing which the stoutest 
heart must have sunk. 

Two weeks of anxious watching and labor by day and 
night, with varying shadows of hope and fear on the 
part of family and friends, passed by, while the pain and 
suffering of the victims steadily increased, until Sunday 
evening, just before eight o'clock of May 13th, Judge 
Chisolm died, with his head resting in the arms of his 
devoted wife. By advice of the surgeon, a knowledge of 
his death was carefully kept from Cornelia. To do this, 
we were compelled, almost by force, to carry the widowed 
mother into another portion of the house, where her 
screams could not be heard by the suffering girl. During 
the terrible night which followed — terrible indeed to the 
inmates of that household — Cornelia, many times called 
for her " mamma," who was then wholly unable to come 
to her. The poor girl was deceived with the story that 
her mother had a very severe head-ache and had lain 
down for a little rest, and the doctor's orders were that 
she must not be disturbed. In this way, Cornelia was 
pacified until the morning came, when she again called 

^^ffome Rule" in Mississippi, 221 

for her, and would hardly consent to be put off longer. 
" Only think," she said, " I have not seen mamma since 
last night, before dark; now you must let her come to 

After having been informed of Cornelia's request to 
see her, I asked Mrs. Chisolm if she could go into her 
presence without betraying any unusual emotion, calcu- 
lated to arouse a suspicion in Cornelia's mind of the 
death of her father. " Yes," said she, " I am equal to any- 
thing;" and, after bathing her face in cold water, she 
walked deliberately into the room and caressed the fath- 
erless girl, who lay there unconscious of her orphanage. 
That morning the coffin came and Judge Chisolm's body 
was carried off and buried as Johnny's had been, two 
weeks before. 

Tuesday, the 15 th, the physician came in and informed 
the writer (who at the time was her only attendant) of 
his determination to perform an operation on Cornelia's 
arm, which had become very much swollen and inflamed 
from erysipelas and other causes, some of the wounds 
having but imperfect drainage. A similar operation, 
though not so severe, had been tried before with very 
satisfactory results, and the doctor's opinion was that 
this done she would begin to recover at once. The^ 
necessary preparations for this operation were entered 
upon with the greatest reluctance, as the girl was very 
much reduced, and more especially as chloroform had to 
be administered. This, however, was given only in small 
quantities, enough to deaden the sensibilities, though not 
sufficient to put her entirely under its influence. 

222 The Chisolni Massacre, 

The surgeon lanced the arm in several places, the 
blood flowing profusely but before the operation had 
been completed she returned to consciousness, com- 
plained of great pain and immediately fainted. All 
needful restoratives were at hand, and from this she was 
soon rallied, but fainted again, exclaiming as the swoon 
came upon her, " O ! how dark, dark, dark ! Will the 
light never come again ?" Only that light which illumines 
the pathway of the glorified in heaven, appeared to her 

Every remedy was applied that could possibly be 
devised, but she continued to sink. The day was 
bright and balmy, and as the breath of the dying girl 
grew short and labored, the doors and windows were 
opened and the fragrance of sweet flowers, from a 
hundred different varieties growing in the yard, wafted 
by a gentle and refreshing breeze, filled the room. A 
pure white lily, almost the last object upon which she 
bestowed a look or caress, rested on her bosom as she 
lay in a reclining posture in a large arm chair. But the 
scent of her * favorite roses, or the touch of soft winds 
from the cool forest shade failed to arrest that eye 
already dimmed by the leaden shades of death. The 
heart-broken mother and little brothers, wild with grief, 
gathered round, and their cries and sobs went out over 
the frowning walls of the county jail, and far beyond the 
limits of that blood-cursed town. 

" O ! God of mercy," cried Clay, " must sister die, too ? 
My sweet, sweet sister ! Murdered ! murdered ! mur- 
dered ! " The stricken family, together with the few 

^'' Home Ride'' in Mississippi, 223 

friends that stood by, sank upon the floor by the martyr's 
side, while in the mute eloquence of woe, all prayed God 
to spare her precious life. As long as respiration lasted 
her clear and powerful intellect seemed to be at work, 
for, in answer to the appeals of her mother to " try to 
breathe again for papa's sake," she would struggle for 
another breath ; but already her spirit was reaching out 
to be welcomed by that of her beloved father in another 
world ; and " Homeward she walked with God's benedic- 
tion upon her." 

Among the stricken mourners gathered there, none 
were more deeply moved than the negroes about the 
place, many of whom had watched the growth of this 
bright being from a child, and who loved her with an 
honest and unselfish devotion. These gathered in large 
numbers as they had done at the death-bed of Judge 
Chisolm, and their tears were mingled with those of the 
family and friends. 

At two o'clock her spirit took its flight; and there, 
almost under the shadow of the slaughter-pen, where the 
victims were offered up, its grim walls looking down as 
fixed and immovable as the hearts of those whose savaee 
thirst for blood had thus been satiated, lay the mangled 
corpse of this pure and innocent girl, with the dark blue 
marks left by blows from the assassin's hand still visible 
upon her fair face and brow, now calmly composed in 

The loving hands of Mrs. Griflin, Mrs. Hopper, Mrs. 
Rush and Miss McDevitt, dressed and prepared her for 
the grave, and if an angel from heaven had lain there 

224 * ^^^^ Chisolni Massacre, 

asleep, its loveliness would have been eclipsed by the 
surpassing beauty of that dead girl. 

By the direction of the physician, the mother, who now 
sat cold and dumb and tearless, was placed under the 
closest surveillance, as it was feared by all that she would 
become hopelessly insane. 

Wednesday the coffin came, and the martyred remains 
followed those of the father and brother a distance of 
twenty-two miles through a desolate and unreclaimed 
region, right past the haunts of the men whose hands 
were yet dripping with her blood, and who stood by the 
roadside and gazed upon the mournful scene with an 
expression of stolid indifference. From early morning 
until five o'clock in the evening the solemn march pro- 
ceeded, when a bright and cheerful little spot broke upon 
the view — an oasis in the great desert of Kemper 
County — the place where our heroine was born nineteen 
years before, and where now the father, daughter and 
son sleep side by side. 

Thus, within sight of three christian churches, oi:e 
after another the victims sank and died, and not a min- 
ister of the gospel nor a member of the congregation with 
which the mother and murdered daughter worshiped, ever 
offered to cross the threshold of the house of mourning. 
One after another the mangled forms were carried out 
and buried, with just enough hands to perform the man- 
ual labor incident thereto, and not a requiem was sung 
nor a benediction offered, save only the prayers which 
came silently and spontaneously from the hearts of the 
faithful few who stood around. 

^'- Home RiiW in Mississippi. 225 

After diligent inquiry, it is yet to be learned that any 
clergyman preaching in DeKalb, Scooba or Meridian — 
all immediately adjoining towns — has publicly alluded 
to this in any way. What may be said of a condition 
of society, which so bridles the mouths of the chosen 
messengers of the Great Prince of Peace, that they dare 
not lift their voices against such a crime as this; and 
that because of the peculiar political faith of those who 
are made victims of the sacrifice? 

Thus the curtain falls upon this act in the tragedy, 
and with it ends the career of a family whose only rule 
of law in the domestic circle was that of love, and 
whose worst offense against their fellows, was the free 
exercise of an honest conviction which the constitution 
of the country guarantees to its humblest citizen. From 
the father down, a kiss or a fond caress was the only 
sure password to their hearts, and the only punishment 
ever offered for any disobedience of parental authority or 
other supposed wrong-doing. 

Cornelia, at once a martyr to a God-like filial affection, 
and a victim of savage outlawry, the oldest of the 
children and the brightest jewel of the household, was 
the star of her mother's hope, and her father's especial pet 
and idol. Happy and vivacious, tender, true and faithful 
to every kindly impulse, her heart was capable of loving 
the whole world. Possessed of superior intelligence, her 
character was graced with a purity which gave her an 
elevated and commanding place in the scale of young 
and useful womanhood, into which she had just entered, 
and her untimely and terrible death has left a wound in 

226 The CJiisolm Massacre, 

the hearts of all who knew her well which time can 
never heal, while a million accursed lives like that of 
Rosser and his followers can never atone for a single 
drop of her pure and innocent blood. 


The traces of the bloody sacrifice extended around 
the iron cages from the top of the jail all along the stair- 
case and hall way to the outside entrance ; over the 
smooth, grassy common to the house ; through the little 
window from the back porch and across the floor to the 
room where the wounded were placed; and from there to 
every closet and corner where busy fingers, leaving red 
stains, turned in search of lint, bandages or whatever 
could be found for the relief or comfort of the wounded. 
These crimson marks had scarcely had time to dry when 
every species of falsification and evasion of or detraction 
from the real facts concerning the massacre were put 
forth, through the agency of the local press and volun- 
tary newspaper writers of the State. A number of 
journals, it is true, condemned the crime as the murderers 
themselves should have been condemned and executed 
long ago; and among the people there was a goodly 
number who really sympathized with the family and 
their friends; but these were slow and exceedingly 
cautious in the manifestations of their feelings. A com- 
munication of the kind alluded to, which appeared in 
one of the leading newspapers, is here given. It tacitly 
admits the horrors of the slaughter in an endeavor to 
find justification for the act. The assertions made by 
"A Subscriber" have been fully discussed and answered 
in the preceding pages, and this sweeping and unquali- 

228 TJie Chisolin Massacre. 

fied statement of an individual who was himself one of 
the prime movers in the conspiracy, is not nor can it be 
sustained by a single corroborating circumstance, or wit- 
ness, living or dead. It is reproduced to show the spirit 
which moves the hearts of these men, after the voices of 
their victims have been silenced forever, and they seek to 
violate the graves filled by their own red hands, when no 
power on earth remains to vindicate the honor of the 
dead. Here is the letter: 

DeKalb, Miss., June 15, 1877. 
Editor Meridian Mercury : 

Knowing that you are using all your powers to put 
the Kemper riot in its true light before the world, I have 
concluded to give you a few of the leading facts in 
respect to it. During the last eight or nine years, Kem- 
per county has been infested with a set of well organized 
forgers, thieves, robbers and murderers. The very best 
man among them was without a peer in villainy among 
the Murrell or Copelan clans. They would rob, forge 
and steal by day, and kill and murder by night. For 
illustration : Numbers of men, and women too, widows, 
have paid their taxes every year on their lands and have 
their receipts to prove it ; but their lands have gone to 
the State for from five to eight years, and are delinquent 
and not one cent of taxes paid in. Men who now, 
under honest tax gatherers, pay eight to ten dollars, 
under the Chisolm-Gilmer clan paid from twenty-eight 
to thirty-five dollars ; the twenty to twenty-five dollars 
was clear robbery of the people every year. They per- 
petrated frauds and swindles innumerable, mostly in 
county warrants, some of which I could specify if time 
and space would allow. The first of the bloody crimes 
was the murder of J. H. Ball in 1869. It was peculiarly 

^^ Home Rule'' i7i Mississippi. 229 

atrocious and heart-rending. His house was surrounded 
at night with himself and family in it. Guns were fired 
into it, and the vigorous assault demonstrated the 
murderous intent. It was death to remain, and almost 
certain death to fly. The latter presented a gleam of 
hope and he tried it. He cleared the house and passed 
his assailants, but was seen, pursued and barbarously 
butchered away out in his cotton field. He did not die 
immediately, but lived to tell who his immediate 
murderers were. They were negroes known to be tools 
of Chisolm. That, with a thrilling scene between him 
and Chisolm about three weeks before, with no eye to 
see and no ear to hear, when and where it was in truth 
Ball sacrificed his own life to his weak humanity, demon- 
strates, to a moral certainty, that his killing was of 
Chisolm's procuring. He was shot and killed in the night 
time, if not, to quote the special correspondent of the 
New York Tribune " by some one in hiding by the road 
side." The proofs were produced in this case, but the 
parties were acquitted. It was only a white man and a 
democrat was killed. In 1870, Sam Gully was killed by 
Ben Rush, on the streets of DeKalb. He was tried and 
acquitted, though he had deliberately gone out with his 
gun to intercept his victim with intention to commit 
murder. Hal Dawson was killed, in 1 871, by Bill Davis, 
at Scooba, in conspiracy with J. P. Gilmer, two notorious 
members of the Chisolm clan. Gilmer inveigled him to 
where Davis could shoot him down with impunity, and 
shot two bullets into his head after he was down. 
Chisolm was all-powerful then, and as sheriff protected 
the murderers, and so powerful was he in his wickedness 
that they were not only never punished, but never in any 
danger of being punished by any legal method. On the 
contrary, he was rewarded by being elected to a seat in 
the State Senate ; and ever after that was near to Chis- 
olm and a co-worker in all his schemes. The virtuous 

230 TJie C Jus till Massacre, 

friendship of Damon and Pythias, long ago, was not 
surpassed by the love and affection these twin workers 
of iniquity bore each other. W. S. Gambrel, a mild 
republican, and generally beliked by the good white 
people, was State Senator when Hal Dawson was killed 
and Gilmer set his covetous eyes upon the office as a 
reward for bloody service. It was easy for them to do, 
and poor Gambrel " was shot by some person in hiding 
by the road side," and thus was made the vacancy in the 
State Senate for Gilmer to fill as his reward for killing 
Hal Dawson. In killing Gambrel they accomplished 
two desirable ends — they got rid of a man who refused 
to become an accomplice in their villainies, and made the 
way clear to reward a favorite. 

A young man by the name of Floyd was killed in his 
store, in 1873, by a hired assassin. The murderer was 
arrested, but Chisolm was sheriff and permitted him to 
escape. The murderer rode away a gray pony furnished 
by McClellan, the " British subject." He took up and 
staid awhile in Jasper County, and in a drunken spree 
told the tale, and then left for parts unknown. About 
this time. Bob Dabbs was waylaid in DeKalb, and shot 
and killed by a negro clansman. There was then an 
unsuccessful attempt to assassinate Mr. Thomas Morton 
"by some person in hiding by the road side," occurred in 
1875. ^ charge of buckshot was sent through his 
shoulder, severely wounding him. Dennis Jones, colored, 
was shot and killed " by some person in hiding by the 
road side," in 1876. The shooting of John W. Gully in 
December last, had the design of it been fully successful, 
would have been the best laid plan of them all. He 
was to have been killed on the road between two negro 
houses, one hundred and fifty to two hundred yards 
apart, and it was to have been laid on them. And on 
his final taking off in April, it was attempted to make 
the same impression that it was the deed of negroes, by 

'^ Home Rule'' in Mississippi. 231 

robbing him of his boots, hat, pistols and money. Chis- 
olm had made a threat that he intended to make the 
people of the county feel him. From his past record 
and present success in procuring a good citizen to be 
killed, the people might well dread he would make good 
the threat, and enquire, who next ? That question pre- 
sented a horrible and maddening thought. For ten 
years Chisolm and his gang had pursued their course of 
public robbery and private murder, unchecked and un- 
baffled by human laws, and they had begun, now, to 
execute his latest threat, to make the people of the 
county feel him in a bloody murder, and the dread ques- 
tion each man who helped to bury John W. Gully put 
to himself — who next*^ What wonder the next day 
brought the DeKalb riot? The 29th of April tells the 
tale of people in madness thwarting the bloody threat 
in blood. Put forward, as it has been done, in its worst 
aspect, we must confess that the killing of the son and 
daughter looks savage-like; but stated in its true light 
and without any coloring, and it is not so bad. The 
guards stationed in the jail all agree, that after the first 
gun fired by Chisolm, which killed Dr. Rosser, several 
shots were fired at him filling the room with smoke. 
The little boy, frightened, ran in front of his father, and 
he, seeing him indistinctly, supposed him to be one of 
his assailants, and shot him. His daughter was wounded, 
frantically clinging to her father by some one over ex- 
cited and rendered incautious thereby. It was deplor- 
able, and none deplore it as the actors in the tragedy. 
These men, whom no written law could ever reach, the 
unwritten higher law took hold on that 29th of April; 
its adjudications were soon made, and the execution of 
them a terrible example, for the crime which has had a 
long and successful career, defying law or evading it by 
ways scarcely less criminal than the infraction of the 
law whose penalties they avoid. 

A Subscriber. 

232 TJie CJiisolvi Massacre, 

The men against whom the grave charges in the 
above are aimed cannot answer them. They are dead. 
They cannot compel the murderer to produce the testi- 
mony against them, or by his failure to do so prove him- 
self a liar as well. The falsifier and traducer believes he 
has now as little to fear from resistance to the assaults 
of his envenomed tongue, as the assassin did from 
defense against his bullets after the chosen victims had 
been disarmed and securely fastened in jail. But in this 
at least let us hope they have committed an error. 
There is but one statement in this voluntary libel having 
the semblance of truth, and that is found in the para- 
graph relating to the existence, in Kemper county, of a 
" well organized band of forgers, thieves, robbers and 
murderers ; the very best man among them being with- 
out a peer in villainy among the Murrell or Copeland 
clans." If the writer had gone back forty years instead 
of "eight," in dating the beginning of organized robbery 
and murder in Kemper county, his communication would 
have been spared the condemnation of unblushing and 
unqualified falsehood: for Copeland himself, in his "Con- 
fession on the Gallows," as published by Dr. F. R. S. 
Pitts, the sheriff who executed him, draws heavily from 
Kemper county for the material of which that thrilling 
and blood-curdling story of crime and outlawry is com- 
posed. The names of some of these men are there 
given. Their descendants are living in Kemper and 
adjoining counties to-day, and the most diabolical mur- 
ders and robberies of which the annals of crime furnish 
proof have been committed within its borders during the 

^^Home Rule'' in Mississippi. 233 

past six months, and there never has been but one white 
man executed in the county for any offense since the 
admission of the State into the Union. 

The question is now asked, if the charges of the 
writer quoted be true, why were these " great criminals " 
— Chisolm, Gilmer and others — never punished, or 
sought to be punished, in some legal way, after the over- 
throw of their power and the corrupt rule of ' radicalism ' 
in the county?" Rush had gone from their reach into 
another State, it is true; though nothing but the fear 
of death from a concealed foe caused his flight. The 
two Hoppers and Rosenbaum, all of them "accessory 
to the killing of Gully," and thieves and robbers on the 
most gigantic scale — "the good people" of Kemper 
would have us believe — are alive and well to-day, and 
two of them are still within the county, and they fear 
nothing but the murderous bullet from ambush. No 
process of the law has any terror for them. Rosen- 
baum and one of the Hoppers, under the threat of 
assassination, have been forced to seek employment 
elsewhere, and the other Hopper has been whipped into 
temporary obedience to the will of the Klan; other 
than this they are in no danger. If Judge Chisolm, as 
sheriff, ever " robbed the widow and the orphan," as 
claimed, why were not the " tax receipt^ " in the posses- 
sion of those robbed produced in court, the sheriff sued 
upon his bond for misdemeanor in office, the money 
recovered and himself sent to the penitentiary? 

But as an ultimatum and a proof positive of his 
many crimes, the argument is made that Judge Chisolm 

234 ^^^^' CJiisolni Massacre, 

grew rich while sheriff. It is true, as stated before, that 
he accumulated property while in that office, as did 
every other sheriff in the State during a corresponding 
period, without regard to party affiliations. The posi- 
tion is admitted to be the most lucrative, as it is certainly 
the most influential in the disposition and control of 
public patronage within the State. This, no doubt, is 
the secret of the great crime, growing out of its posses- 
sion for so many years by some one adverse to the 
Gullys and their especial favorites. 

But the groans of the wounded, pent up by barred 
windows and closed blinds, were yet wringing the hearts 
of the few friends and relatives on watch, while editorials 
like the following were being printed and circulated 
throughout the country. 

The Meridian Mercury, always first in a good work, 
regaled its peaceful and law-loving readers with senti- 
ments of this kind : 

Perhaps the time is now ripe for us to speak what we 
had intended to. 

What Governor Stone has requested Judge Hamm to 
do about holding a special term for an early investigation 
we don't know. Judge Hamm has ordered no special 
term, and we think it is safe to predict that he will not. 
If we ever had a strong conviction about anything, we 
never had a strofiger one than that it is best not. 

April 29th, in DeKalb, never ought to be investigated, 
and if wisdom and statemanship prevail, never will be. 
On that day, the higher law, which antedates common 
law and all other law, ousted them all and their ministers 
of jurisdiction, and for a brief period of time, sufficient 
to its purposes, held sway. Its judgments were final. 

''^ Home RjcW in Mississippi. 235 

As they affect the Hving and the dead, they are res 
adjiidicata, and will ever remain so. No court is com- 
petent to disturb them. Every attempt to review them 
will be both futile and mischievous. Special instructions 
to grand jurors are likely to go unheeded, and to save an 
exhibition of their impotency had best not be given. 
The best thing the law and the ministers can do about 
the tragedy is to save their strength for the future as 
wiser than wasting it foolishly and vainly on the past. 
•X- * -sj- -jf w -x- -;;- 

From all accounts, we estimate there were three to 
four hundred men. Every man of these was equally a 
principal in the murder, if murder was committed, with 
any other man. Besides this, nearly every adult white 
vian in the county, zvJio zvas not present, is resolved to 
stand by those who zvere there, and approve tJiem as good 
and true citizens and not criminals. Can three or four 
hundred men who were present, and all principals alike 
in any crime committed, with an entire county besides 
resolved to protect them against any consequences the 
law denounces against their acts, be indicted, tried, con- 
victed and hung or sent to the penitentiary for Hfe ? 

This was followed by Mr. P. K. Mayers, of the 
Handsboro Democrat, who murdered Mr. Orr at Pass 
Christian, in open day, and now writes editorials compli- 
menting the courage and chivalry of his Kemper 
brethren, who, if possible, are more cowardly and brutal 
than himself. 

Here is the language of the Democrat : 

We have refrained from editorial comment upon the 
unfortunate but necessary killing of scallawag Gilmer, 
and the wounding of scallawag ex-Judge Chisolm, in 
Kemper County, because we were loth to blame before 
we were in possession of all the facts, and because we 

236 TJie CJdsolm Massacre. 

were determined not to justify a lawless act, no matter 
by whom committed. We are for compelling individuals 
to seek remedies for wrongs, real or supposed, in such 
a way as not to endanger the peace of society. But 
when the conduct of individuals offending is so violent, 
that society must be outraged and ruined before legal 
remedies can be applied, the summary punishment of 
such individuals becomes pardonable. 

The facts in the case under discussion, disclose a fear- 
ful state of affairs in Kemper County. It appears that 
Gilmer, Chisolm and their confederates, for several years 
pursued a system of robbing, murder and assassination, 
and have defied and eluded the law. Three times they 
attempted to murder the unfortunate man, whose un- 
timely death led speedily to retributive justice on their 
own heads. The last time they succeeded. It appears 
that the barbarous brutes and cowards, in addition to 
the waylaying and butchering of two GuUys, have stolen 
the records of the Courts, and thus cut off the only 
chance society had to protect itself. What wonder is 
it, then, that the people outraged have at last seized the 
law in their own hands, and administered a fierce and 
swift justice on the heads of the butchers of the res- 
pected but unfortunate GuUys. However we may 
deplore the manner of their " taking off^" we cannot but 
be glad society is rid of the monsters Gilmer & Co. 

We regret to observe, on the part of all the Radical 
press of the State, a disposition to make political cap- 
ital out of the unhappy affair, and we are ashamed of 
that portion of the Democratic press, which has been 
swift to condemn the avengers of the Gullys, simply 
because surviving scallawags and carpet-baggers of no 
better repute than their defunct co-partners in crime 
may howl over their timely demise. Doubtless these 
wretches, hke their Mormon prototypes, Brigham Young 
and "Mountain Meadow" Lee, would even be glad at 

^^ Home Rule'' in Mississippi. 23/ 

society patiently bearing their atrocities. It will not do 
so. They must meet the consequences of their crimes. 
For years they have plundered, robbed, murdered, burned 
and assassinated with impunity. They must now pay 
with their lives and necks for a continuance of these acts. 
The slow but leaden hand of Justice crushed the Mollie 
Maguires of Pennsylvania, it will crush the banded clan 
of murdering scallawags and carpet-baggers in Miss- 
issippi. We are for law where it can be had, but above 
all for justice. 

The Jackson Clarion, which is really an able and 
influential journal, and truthfully represents the brain 
and heart of Mississippi's best citizenship, comments 
upon this grave affair as follows : 

Major Ethel Barksdale is responsible for this : 

The long era of corrupt and inefficient government, 
through which both Mississippi and Louisiana have 
passed, has brought about a want of confidence in and res- 
pect for the law, and given to violent and lawless men a 
dangerous latitude of action. This evil must be vigor- 
ously eradicated from both States. We have heard of 
no more atrocious crime, than that which was perpetrated 
in Kemper County, and Gov. Stone has now an oppor- 
tunity, by fearless and determined action, to strike such 
terror to the hearts of lawless men in Mississippi, that 
he will, if he avails himself of it, have little trouble of 
a similar nature in the future." — New Orleans Denioerat. 

This is a specimen of the tub, which some Southern 
newspapers that ought to know better, is throwing out 
to the Northern whale, which they imagine is craving 
♦ for a sensational feast. The conductors of those papers 
cannot but know, that sometimes there are evils to be 
uprooted, for which no peaceable methods provide suf- 
ficient remedies, and that others besides "violent and 

238 TJie CJiisohn Massacre. 

lawless men" resort to them. Chief among them is sys- 
tematic and premeditated assassination, the evidence of 
which is necessarily circumstantial, but of which there is, 
nevertheless, confirmation as strong as proof of holy 
writ to the public niind. That the Kemper County 
affair is the product of the bad passions which were 
propagated under Radical misrule, and that they were 
indulged by depraved and vicious men, who flourished 
under it, cannot be questioned. But that the men who, 
to rid the community of the evils which it "inflicted were 
compelled to resort to summary measures were "lawless 
and violent" in the sense employed, we utterly deny. 

If our New Orleans cotemporary will tax his memory 
just a little he will readily recall "crimes" equally as 
"atrocious" as the Kemper affair, when outraged com- 
munities were forced, by abuses for which they were not 
responsible, to inflict summary vengeance upon evil 
doers. It happened at Mechanics' Institute, in New 
Orleans, in 1868; in Grant parish in 1874; in New 
Orleans again on the memorable 14th of September; 
at Clinton, Miss., in 1875, and at Hamburg, South Caro- 
lina, in 1876. If our New Orleans neighbor will tax his 
memory he will recall the scenes at San Francisco just a 
few years preceding the war; and the summar}^ ven- 
geance the Indiana people inflicted upon the Reno clan, 
after finding that the slow processes of the law were 
wholly inadequate to the punishment of assassins who 
lurked in thickets on the way-side, and made their tracks 
under the cover of darkness. 

* * * -jf * * * 

We don't understand what is meant by the call upon 
Governor Stone to strike " terror into the hearts of law- 
less men in Mississippi." The governor is as much 
bound by the law as other people are, and it distinctly 
prescribes his duties. It gives him no authority to try 

^^ Home Rule'' in Mississippi. 239 

anj'body, to hang anybody, or to put anybody in the 
penitentiary. The men engaged in the Kemper affair 
did their work in open day. They will not run away 
nor hide themselves. They are amenable to the laws, 
and judicial tribunals are established to try them. It 
will be time enough for the governor to exercise his 
power as commander-in-chief when the laws for the 
punishment of the accused are defied and the courts are 
shown to be powerless to execute their decrees. 

The Okalona Southern States thus addresses the 
people of the North, whose eyes are turned upon Mis- 
sissippi in just and withering condemnation of its whole 
people for suffering such acts as are here recorded to sfo 
unheeded and unwhipped : 

Talk of the Kemper county outrage ! Was that any- 
thing when compared to the murders, and burning, and 
devilish outrages of every character and description that 
you visited upon us while the civil war was in progress ? 
Down, down on your knees you wretches, and pray God 
to forgive your atrocities before you dare to rebuke us 
for anything. We have had just about enough of this 
tigerish interference on your part. 

Elsewhere, mention is made of the responsibility of 
Thomas S. Gathright in bringing about the horrors 
of the 29th of April, in DeKalb, and here again an 
opportunity is found for quoting his language bearing 
upon that matter. What is reproduced will be found in 
a letter written by Mr. Gathright to the Jackson Clarion, 
and bears date, ^'Central Texas, June i, 1877." It is 
over the well known nom de plume of " William." Here 
is his language : 

It is high time that some people in Mississippi were 

240 The Chisoim Massacre, 

learning the lesson written in Kemper in lines of blood, 
that the tyrant, the traitor and the assassin will sooner 
or later be overtaken by a frightful retribution, and that 
all who are partisans and mourners of such are but 
biding their time. 


Time advances, and while these scenes are fresh in the 
memory of all who witnessed them, five victims offered 
as a bloody sacrifice, and three others are driven from 
their families and homes, it transpires that the pretended 
evidence of their guilt is no where to be found. Not 
even a resort to the halter or lash could wring from the 
two negroes a statement calculated to imperil the life of 
an innocent man. The witnesses whose names appeared 
on the forged warrant of arrest, have been questioned 
and declare their entire ignorance of the facts, if such 
facts ever had an existence save in the fertile brain of the 
perjurer and assassin. The next startling intelligence 
comes from the same reliable source quoted in the 
preceding chapter — the Meridian Mercury — with an 
admission like the following : 

We have information of a fact which, if true, as we 
believe it to be, leads almost irresistibly to the conclusion 
that Chisolm was an accomplice of the assassin of Gully. 

Ah ! we are now consoled with a declaration from the 
executioner that he is in hopes, ere long, to be able to 
fasten the evidence of guilt upon those whose heads 
have already fallen into the basket. The Vicksburg 
Herald comes to the defense of the Mercury and, in a 
similar strain, says : 

242 TJie CJiisolm Massacre, 

It is now coming to light that there is some very con- 
vincing proof that Gilmer, Chisolm and Company were 
accessory to the cowardly murder of John W. Gully. 

Following this, the paper first named again steps to 
the front and places the question beyond the reach of a 
doubt : 

We have stated the " fact " for " information of the 
Times;' which " leads almost irresistibly to the conclu- 
sion that Chisolm was an accomplice in the assassination 
of Gully." Though Rush was unseen to the general 
public after the attempt of the 20th of December, he 
was seen in Chisolm's house — business house — in 
DeKalb, with some of the Chisolm gang, in the night 
time. Even in that secret place, he kept his double- 
barrel gun in hand. He went behind the counter to mix 
him a drink of whisky, and yet held on to his gun the 
while. This is a bit of circumstantial evidence, it is true, 
but we ask the Times if it does not "lead almost 
irresistibly to the conclusion that Chisolm was an accom- 

All that the author of the above seems to require is a 
little time. If the people will remain silent and allow 
the ghosts of the murdered father and children to rest 
quietly in their graves, sufficient proof zvill be found to 
convince the world that Cornelia and Johnny, McLellan 
and Gilmer and Judge Chisolm ought to have been 
entrapped in jail by the sheriff and there butchered. 

Whether in compliance with this prophetic advice or 
not, those entrusted with the execution of the law have 
rested quietly enough, God knows. 

A few short and eventful weeks have followed, while 
the hearts of the widow and orphan, still writhing under 

''^ Home Rule'' in Mississippi. 243 

their bereavement, and pouring forth a ceaseless fountain 
of tears, have anxiously waited the fulfillment of the 
above revelation, terrible though its realization might be 
to them, having nothing better offered upon which to 
settle down and rest a future of absolute hopelessness 
and despair. While thus living in daily anticipation of 
this promised disclosure, another and a very different 
scene suddenly bursts upon the view, and which estab- 
hshes conclusively and at once the entire innocence of 
the accused, and as quickly and effectually exposes the 
enormities of the conspiracy, through means of which 
the "Slaughter of the Innocents" was procured. Refer- 
ence is had to the affidavit sent by B. F. Rush, from 
Russellville, Arkansas, which clearly shows the fact that 
he could not possibly have had anything to do with the 
assassination of Gully on the 26th of April, as he was 
at Russellville on that very day. The affidavit is here 
presented, bearing the signatures of twenty-five good 
citizens of that place : 

The State of Arkansas, | 
Pope County. j 

To all whom it ^^nay concern : 

We, the undersigned, citizens of said county and 
State, hereby certify that we are acquainted with B. F. 
Rush, and have been since some time in March last. He 
has been in regular attendance at our Sabbath school; 
he is now living and has been since the time above 
specified, with one J. W. Harkey, which fact many of us 
know of our own personal knowledge, having been at 
said Harkey's, and meeting with said Rush there, and 
well know that he was not nor could have been in Mis- 
sissippi at the time he was alleged to have been. In 

244 ^/^^^ Chisoim Massacre. 

testimony whereof, we hereunto affix our names this the 
lOth day of June, A. D. 1877: 

C. B. Falkington, M. W. Parker, 

L. G. Turner, Wm. Duncan, 

J. M. Moore, W. H. Rushing, 

J. J. Stout, G. W. Rushing, 

John L. Stevenson, W. M. Mullins, 

B. A. TuLLY, O. D. Wilson, 

£. B. Wooten, S. J. Mullins, 

W. J. Briman, David McCormick, 

H. C. Hamilton, A. B. Willifson, 

L. D. Bryant, J. S. Wheeler, 

J. M. Berryhill, Z. T. Turner, 

A. P. Bryant, A. H. Humphreys. 

The State of Arkansas, ) 
County of Pope. ) 

I, J. W. Sharkey, do solemnly swear that I am well 
acquainted with B. F. Rush, and have been since the 
22d day of March, 1877, since which time he has con- 
tinuously lived with me, and I know that he was at work 
with me at my farm, in said county, on the 26th day of 
April, 1877. J. W. Sharkey. 

Sworn to and subscribed before me this 13th day of 
June 1877, and I certify that said affiant is a creditable 
and respectable citizen of said county. 

A. J. Bayliss, 

[Seal.] Clerk Circuit Court Pope Co., Ark. 

But not yet satisfied, an effort is made to bring Rush 
from Arkansas on a requisition, charging him with the 
intent to kill Gully on the 20th of December, at the 
time the latter was wounded. That everybody believed 
if Rush was brought back he would be murdered there 

^' Home Ride'* in Mississippi. 245 

is no doubt, and that Governor Stone himself enter- 
tained this view is shown by the fact that, after reflec- 
tion, he telegraphed the governor of Arkansas — Mr. 
Miller — not to recognize the requisition. Upon this 
despatch of Governor Stone the prisoner, after having 
been arrested and placed in the hands of the agent for 
Mississippi — a member of the Gully family — was released 
on an imperative order from Governor Miller, of Arkansas. 
The following letter, written by Rush a few days 
later, will explain the matter more fully, and shows the 
extent of this conspiracy to take his life : 

RUSSELLVILLE, Ark., July I, 1877. 
Dear Friend: Enclosed I send you a copy of a let- 
ter which I have written Gov. Stone, of Mississippi, in 
reference to my recent arrest, in which you will see that 
I have been kidnapped and put to a great deal of 
trouble; though, thank God, I had the sympathy of all 
Russellville and vicinity, and I state to you in confidence, 
Gully would never have gotten away from Russellville 
with me, from what I have since learned. My friends 
were on the alert. I am fully pursuaded that it was a 
grand conspiracy for my assassination. I don't believe 
I would have been permitted to have seen Little Rock. 
I am confident, and so are my friends, that the plan was 
to kill me before reaching Mississippi, for it appears that 
Gully would not release me under any consideration, but 
said I would be released in Little Rock. After the 
Governor had ordered my release, he then refused to 
allow me the privilege of a private conference with my 
attorneys, saying that he was governed by what his 
brother-in-law, Col. Jacaway, advised. The sheriff, after 
seeing Gov. Stone's despatch, which virtually released 
me, when I asked him, as my protector, not to deliver 
me into the hands of my enemies, did so, and then pro- 

246 The Chisolm Massacre. 

ceeded to take from my pocket my key, and dive into 
my private letters and matters generally. Hand-cuffed 
they took me to the hotel, where, thank God, I had good 
friends, Gully not being acquainted. I was lodged in a 
room up stairs, and there, by Gully, cJiaincd dozvn. You 
can well imagine my feelings. The landlord, Mr. Tucker, 
gave up his room below, and occupied one adjoining 
mine. He slept none, I am confident, because I could 
hear him at all hours. I will ever bear him in kind 
remembrance. Judge Davis, Col. Wood and W. C. 
Ford were my attorneys. My financial matters were 
limited, but with the aid and assistance of kind friends 
— Mr. J. W, Haskey especially — I was furnished with 
a plenty to put me through. I looked upon my sit- 
uation as a life and death matter, and so did my friends. 
You can have my letter to Gov. Stone published, if you 
think best. I would like my friends abroad to know of 
my troubles. I have now made up my mind to go to 
some Northern city. It appears that I am to be per- 
secuted and hounded down all my life. I am in a crit- 
ical condition. My friends think it best for me to keep 
private, not knowing who may be lurking for me. I am 
now out on the mountain writing. Am out of money, 
and in my condition, can make none. My friends think 
I had best not be stirring about. Would like for you 
to go up to DeKalb, at your earliest convenience, and 
read this letter to my wife and children. 

Your friend, B. F. RuSH. 

P. S. — If my friends in Mississippi see proper to help 
me — I do not ask it as a gift — I am yet able, notwith- 
standing I am shot up and crippled for life, to make a 
living, and more, too, and will repay all they may con- 
tribute to my relief in this time of trouble. 

B. F. R. 

With the affidavit presented by Rush, the bottom 
upon which the superstructure of the conspiracy was 

''''Home Rule'' in Mississippi. 247 

reared, falls out. To find palliation or justification now, 
the conspirator must go outside of the assassination of 
Gully, and beyond the reach of any record left by 
the men upon whose heads have already fallen the visita- 
tions of his deep villainy. Rush, having been in Arkan- 
sas continuously from the first of March preceding, could 
not have killed Gully on the 26th of April, at DeKalb, 
Mississippi. This, to the friends of the martyred dead, 
signifies much, as it places beyond the possibility of 
belief the last charge which their persecutors have been 
able to bring against them. Yet, to the red-handed 
plotters of iniquity, it all goes for naught, as their work 
is accomplished, and they are left free to commit any 
similar act whenever occasion presents. 

But a sense of shame seems to have found lodgement 
in the hearts of some of the apologists for the killing of 
defenseless women and children, and sooner than main- 
tain absolute silence, the following grave and alarming 
aspersion is cast upon the physician under whose treat- 
ment the wounded sank and died. If Mississippians are 
content with the assertion and belief that a surgeon, 
because of his blind adherence to the peculiar political 
faith which they have made essential to citizenship, 
would suffer the victims of prejudice and hate to die 
when it was within the power of human skill to have 
saved them, after having been entrusted to his sacred 
care as a physician, then indeed the case becomes '' ten- 
fold " more horrifying. In connection with this subject, 
the Vicksburg Herald comes to the relief of the broken- 
hearted survivors, even at the risk of the terrible conse- 

248 TJie Chisohn Massacre, 

quences foreshadowed above, in language as follows: 

The accident of Miss Chisolm's death caused by mal- 
practice, and not by her slight wound, adds tenfold to the 
deplorable consequences. 

Now that the " good people " of Kemper have had 
ample opportunity to assert their inherent manhood in 
the selection of leaders whose " virtue and intelligence " 
is found to be in keeping with that of the sovereigns 
themselves, and when again it is asked why these men 
never were convicted of the multifarious crimes with 
which they were and are still so freely charged, it is said 
that the courts and the juries were so completety under 
their control as to make the indictment of one of their 
political faith an impossibility. Let us examine into the 
facts, and see if this be true or false. 

Since 1866, the boards of supervisors elected in the 
county, with the bare exception of the year 1869, have 
been under the management of the democratic party. 
That is to say : a majority of each board has been con- 
servative and democratic, which signifies its entire control 
by that party. To make this statement good, and place 
the fact beyond contradiction, the names of the men 
comprising the various boards in the order of their elec- 
tion, since the year 1866 is given, designating each by 
showing opposite the name their political affiliation : 

BOARD OF 1866. 
John R. Brittain, .... Democrat, 

R. Jarvis, 
D. H. Garner, 
C. F. Johnson, 
James W. Hardin, 


^'Honie Rule'' in Mississippi. 


BOARD OF 1867. 

John H. Oden, 
J. W. Hardin, 
M. D. Crawford, 
R. Jarvis, 
C. F. Johnson, 

T. N. Bethany, 
D. McNeil, 
G. E. Priddy, 
Wm. Ezell, 
Hozie Flore, 

E. Edwards, 
D. McNeil, 
Wm. Hudson, 
G. E. Priddy, 
T. N. Bethany, 

Moses Halford, 
John R. Davis, 
R. Nave, 
G. E. Priddy, 
W. K. Stennis, 

John R. Davis, 
E. Edwards, 
J. A. Jenkins, 
R. Nave, 
T. W. Adams, 

BOARD OF 1869. 

BOARD OF 1 87 1, 

BOARD OF 1872. 

BOARD OF 1874. 





Republican. ^ 









The Chisolm Massacre. 

BOARD OF 1876. 

T. H. Hampton, 
John R. Davis, 
E. Edwards, 
J. C. Carpender, 
Robert Griggs, 



Following this the Revised Code of Mississippi is 
quoted, showing the power that a board of supervisors 
has in the selection of grand juries : 

Article IX., Section 726. — Grand jurors in each county- 
shall be selected as follows : 

The board of supervisors in each county, at least thirty 
days before each term of a circuit court, shall select 
twenty persons, to be taken as equally in numbers as 
may be from each supervisor's district, possessed of the 
requisite qualifications to serve as grand jurors at the 
ensuing term. * -^ * 

Section 727. — The names of the person so selected 
shall be entered on the minutes of the board. The 
clerk of the board shall, without delay, hand the sheriff 
of the county a certified copy of such appointment of 
grand jurors, and the sheriff shall summon such jurors 
by personal service, if to be found, or, if not, by written 
notice left at their respective places of abode, at least 
five days before the commencement of the term, to 
appear and serve on the grand jury. 

It so happens, then, that the grand juries of Kemper 
county have been, for the past ten years, chosen by 
democrats. This body of men, after a foreman has been 
selected by the circuit judge, is placed under the personal 
supervision of the district attorney, who, in Kemper, 
has always been a pronounced bourbon and white-liner. 

"Home Rule" in Mississippi, 251 

Hence the grand juries have been largely composed of 
white men, but few negroes being impanneled at any 
one time. The scarcity of white republicans has some- 
times made this a necessity, and afforded a pretext for 
making a majority of each jury Anglo-Saxon, and favor- 
able to the great tenets of "local self-government." 
These facts, if nothing else, have often compelled the 
presiding judge, although a republican, to appoint a fore- 
man from among those entertaining political opinions 
opposed to his own. Now, with this exhibit before us, 
it is told that these men have not been indicted, con- 
demned and imprisoned, because, forsooth, " the courts 
and the juries have been so completely under their con- 
trol, as to make a conviction for an offense committed by 
them impossible." Fearing that an enlightened people 
may not be quite satisfied with a subterfuge Hke this — 
and since the courts, juries and everything else have gone 
into the hands of the "home people," and those who do 
not agree with them politically, are whipped and mur- 
dered without mercy or the hope of justice — a proposi- 
tion more astounding, and if possible, more hollow and 
groundless is offered. It is now told that red-handed 
crime goes unwhipped in Mississippi, because the pres- 
ent "constitution and code of laws were framed and 
adopted by the republican party, and forced on the peo- 
ple of the State contrary to their will." To give f^rce 
and credit to this, the genius of the great law dictator 
of the State, Gen'l J. Z. George is called in, and with a 
pen ready in all the wiles and deceits of a pettifogging 
attorney, he puts forth a State paper having especial 

252 TJie CJiisolni Massacre. 

reference to the outlawed condition of society in Kem- 
per county, in which the following language touching 
the Governor's want of power to enforce the law is used. 
He says: 

That Gov. Stone has not greater powers, is not the 
fault of the white people of Mississippi. His powers 
are derived from, and limited by a constitution and a code 
of laws which were framed and adopted by the Repub- 
lican party, and forced on the people of the State con- 
trary to their will. 

The code of laws under which the courts of the State 
are now operating, was revised by a commission 
appointed by Governor Alcorn, composed of the follow- 
ing gentlemen: Judge J. A. P. Campbell, Amos R. 
Johnson and Amos Lovering. The two first named are 
democrats, and now stand at the head of the bar of the 
State. It is a fact well known to every school boy, that 
the criminal code of to-day is the same as that of 1857, 
save only so far as was made necessary to alter and 
amend by the requirements of the late amendments to 
the constitution of the United States relating to slavery. 
It is almost a verbatim copy of that of the State of New 
York, the code which was originally adopted by the early 
colonies, and taken from that of the old English laws 
which have also been received by each succeeding State 
of the Union since the formation of the government, 
and stand on all the statute books of the country as 
they have stood for two hundred years. 

It is told, then, that the laws were not enforced 
against republicans accused of crime, because of the 

''Home Rule'' in Mississippi. 253 

inability of the courts to reach them through the grand 
juries, the great committing tribunal; and now, that 
crime under democratic rule stalks abroad in defiance of 
all law, we are consoled with the announcement, from so 
high an authority as that of General George, that the 
statutes are not enforced because they were thrust upon 
the people against their will by a republican administra- 
tiouy and in consequence it is not desired that the lazvs 
should be enforced. But this argument is in keeping 
with the spirit manifested throughout, in a vain endeavor 
to palliate and cover up a crime too disgraceful and 
humiliating to be quietly passed over by any people or 
government claiming rank among the civilized nations, 
and which the authorities have neither the manhood or 
the disposition to try to punish. The author quoted, 
who lives a hundred miles from Kemper county, and who 
knows nothing whatever of its people, in the same paper 
alluded to, has another assertion equally erroneous and 
groundless. Here it is : 

To say that these men (meaning the victims of the 
Kemper tragedy) were killed because they were republi- 
cans, and that it is unsafe for a man to proclaim himself 
a republican in Mississippi, is a gross error. 

Strangely in contrast is this with the reasoning of one 
Robert J. Love, who has been a resident of Kemper 
county since 1836, and now an old man just tottering to 
the grave. Mr. Love, from his long and intimate asso- 
ciation with the people, ought to be able to speak with 
some degree of correctness — setting aside, of course, 

254 TJie CJiisoim Massacre. 

the old man's manifest sympathy for and loyalty to his 
"county." He says : 

I think I know the territory of the county and the 
people of the county as well as any man living, and I 
say to-day, take the radical population out of the county 
and in proportion to numbers, the people of this county 
have as many good citizens as any county in this State 
or any other State. 


The fact has never been denied that Judge Ch'isolm 
and his associates were originally from among the best 
class living in Kemper at the time. As such they were 
received and accepted prior to the organization of the 
party to which in after years they allied themselves 
And now the authority of Mr. Love, a venerable citizen 
a resident of the county for forty years, is given, who' 
declares that as soon as these men espoused the cause 
of "radicalism" they became mean and despicable, as no 
other reason for this sudden transition of character is 
given Besides, he says, "take the radical population 
out of the county" and everybody left in it is found to 
be good and virtuous. 

The two letters quoted from in the preceding chapter 
one written by General George, who knows nothing of 
the people of Kemper, and the other by Judge Love, 
who knows all about them, were both printed in the 
same issue of the Meridian Homestead. One of the 
writers claims that politics had nothing whatever to do 
with the massacre at DeKalb, while the other as firmly 
asserts-with far better grounds of authority-that was the primary and only cause of all the 
trouble had there. The conflicting elements which seem 
to have dethroned the reasoning faculties of these great 
writers have seized upon the governor himself; for, on 
the 4th day of October, 1876, in a letter to Attorney- 

256 llie CJiisolm Massacre, 

General Taft, assuring that functionary of the political 
and domestic tranquility of the State, Governor Stone 
wrote as follows : 

I am more than willing, and have been able to exe- 
cute the laws of Mississippi and conserve the public 
peace. * * The perpetrators of wrongs are respon- 
sible to the State authorities, and I am able to bring all 
such to justice, and am determined to do so. 

On the 24th day of May, 1877, but a little more than 
a year later, just a few days after having visited the 
scene of the most wanton and appalling outlawry ever 
committed by beings wearing the human form, His 
Excellency said : 

I have no power to do anything at all. I think it 
doubtful whether a jury of that county (meaning Kem- 
per) will ever convict one of the mob. 

In the face of all these facts the governor, in his 
annual message of the 2d of January, 1877, addressed 
to the assembled wisdom of the State — the democratic 
legislature — is heard in the following language: 

It is with feelings of profound pleasure that I congrat- 
ulate you on the domestic and social prosperity and 
tranquility of our beloved State. Dttrhig the recent 
exciting political canvass^ co^nparative peace and good 
order prevailed. No disturbance was reported that was 
not promptly met and suppressed by the local author- 
ities, nor has it been charged that any citizen of the 
State refused to submit to, or in any way resisted the 
authority of any civil officer. So far as I am advised, 
not a single disturbance occurred on the day of election; 
and at no time since the organization of the State Gov- 
ernment, have the people been more peaceful, quiet and 

"■Home Rule'' in Mississippi. 25/ 

In times of "comparative peace" in Mississippi, there 
is shown a want of respect for the laws, and a lack of 
energy on the part of the "local authorities" in their 
execution, which in many of the states of the union 
where a wholesome fear of the courts is maintained, 
would at once produce a sense of insecurity to life and 
property so great, as to call out at once the united voice 
of the people, for a revision of the code or an immediate 
change of officers entrusted with its enforcement. Indeed 
there is a spirit of lawlessness pervading the State, 
shocking to the better sense of many of its older and 
better citizens. Scores of men die from violence of one 
kind or another, year after year, amounting in the aggre- 
gate to thousands since the war, and not a solitary 
white man has been executed during the time. Feuds 
spring up between individuals and families, collisions 
occur and deaths follow, and in many cases there is no 
interference by the "local authorities." At the most, if 
the offender sees proper to give himself into custody — 
and there is generally a division of sentiment as to which 
may be the offender, the murderer or the murdered — he 
will be placed under a nominal bond, at once released 
and there the matter to him is virtually at an end, unless 
a relative or a friend of the deceased, taking the law in 
his own hands, in turn kills the assassin. It is by no 
means a rare occurrence for "difficulties" like these 
spoken of, to be followed up through succeeding gen- 
erations. One after another the victims fall; children 
are trained up to avenge the loss of those gone before, 
and during all the years of bloody sacrifice, not a man 

258 The Chisolin Massacre, 

involved sees the inside of a prison wall, nor feels the 
gentle pressure of the elastic hemp. This vengeful 
thirst — it is said with sorrow — is not always confined 
to the stronger sex. The writer has seen a pretty girl 
with white hands, large, dreamy eyes and drooping 
lashes, one who would cry out horror stricken to see 
a worm wantonly crushed under foot, on being ques- 
tioned as to her feelings toward General Ames, the 
republican governor of the State, (who, with his accomp- 
lished wife and interesting family of children lived in 
the same town with herself,) at once bristle up with an 
expression as savage as an enraged tigress and exclaim: 
"I could tear out his tongue and heart and burn him 

The people of the South are governed by passion and 
prejudice more than by reason or law. This, to many, 
may sound strangely and even harsh, and when such 
things are said of woman, it should be done with due 
regard for the facts, and at the same time with reverence 
for all those higher and more refining influences which 
she is admitted to exert over the conduct of men. 
But when the women of a country, lost to all those 
tender emotions peculiar to the sex — which are some- 
times wanting in men — can contemplate, with cool 
deliberation, scenes of cruelty which might appall the 
heart of a Catherine de Medici, then indeed there is little 
hope for its people. 

Neighborhood broils are of frequent occurrence, in 
which the friends of either party rally upon the streets 
under arms — generally, though not always, concealed 

''Home Rule'' m Mississippi. 259 

weapons — menacing and threatening each other with 
instant death, while the "better citizens" and the "local 
authorities" stand back aghast in momentary expecta- 
tion of seeing the pavements drenched with blood. To 
promenade the walks armed, with a double-barrel gun, 
avowedly for the purpose of " killing on sight " some 
unfortunate individual, supposed to have been guilty 
of a breach of etiquette, is a scene which often and 
again enlivens the monotony of our best regulated 
towns ; and the natural solemnity and grandeur which 
an act of this kind is sure to inspire, is often made 
doubly imposing by contrast, when the holy quiet of the 
Sabbath is called to witness its enactment. 

Not many years ago, nor far removed from the city of 
Jackson, while traveling on one of the railroads leading 
into that place, a lady, still wearing the widow's weeds, 
might have been seen to enter one of the' coaches, lead- 
ing by the hand a little boy, six or eight years of age. 
After taking a seat, her eyes soon became fixed upon a 
gentleman, well dressed and apparently in the full enjoy- 
ment of life and all its attendant blessings, who was 
sitting in another part of the car. Remaining, with 
her gaze for a moment upon him, she arose from her seat, 
still leading the boy, and advancing directly in front of 
the object of her attention, pointing her finger full in the 
man's face, in a clear and distinct voice thus addressed her 
child : " My son, there sits the man who murdered your 
father ! " 

What a volume of condemnation and reproach is con- 
tained in this brief sentence of that widowed mother; 

26o TJie CJiisolm Massacre. 

and what a commentary it is upon a state of society 
that winks at and tolerates such outrages, and suffers 
them to go unpunished. How many widows and 
orphans, made so by the unrestrained hand of violence, 
there are in Mississippi to-day, God only knows, but 
they may be counted by tens of thousands. 

The State teems with little newspapers ; for when the 
fact is well established that a man is utterly incapaci- 
tated for carrying on any legitimate trade or business he 
is most likely to ascend the tripod, and through the 
agency of a " patent inside," and the logic of the shot- 
gun, become a dictator of public sentiment and morals. 
If an editor's credit survives a dozen issues of his sheet, 
he is entitled, by the law of a long established custom, 
to Jwnors of some kind, and there being nothing else so 
cheap, a " handle" is at once affixed to his name, and one 
supposed to be commensurate in "tone" with the number 
of his subscription list, exclusive of "dead heads." This 
is the means through which Mississippi gained a large 
share of its notoriety in the production of "titled" 
gentry. For the bestowal of these doubtful compli- 
ments upon public benefactors, age and length of service 
very properly take precedence, and we have, first: the 
"Nestor," " Blucher," or "Sage and Philosopher of the 
Mississippi press." Then, coming down to more sublu- 
nary things, there is presented an array of titles — more 
commonly applied to military chieftains — in regular 
gradation, from the rank of " general " down to the hum- 
ble grade of "captain." The development and flight of 
genius in the sphere of journalism in Mississippi, in this 

''''Home Rule'' in Mississippi, 261 

respect, has been remarkable. It is with pride, however, 
thal» a few are excepted from this general rule. There is 
scarcely an issue of one of these journals that does not 
contain an account of some act of outlawry, horrifying 
enough in its details to freeze the blood of a savage. 
Before me, as I write, lay four different papers of the kind 
alluded to, all published within one week, in remote and 
separate parts of the State, and each one reciting the 
details of a local tragedy, the most heinous and diaboli- 
cal. And by whom are these murders committed ? By 
men who are at once branded as outlaws and enemies to 
their race and kind ? Not at all ! Are they at once 
hunted down by the officers of the law, backed by an 
indignant and outraged populace, arrested and confined 
in jail, there to await speedy trial and execution at the 
end of the law? No; by no means. Neither are they 
to be compared with the leaders of the recent terrible 
riots in the Northern States ; their cases are wide apart. 
The men spoken of here are the aristocrats and leaders 
of society. They represent the wealth, intelligence and 
virtue of the communities in which they live. Mechanics, 
operatives, and ignorant day laborers are not counted 
among these. They are " gentlemen " of education and 
too often of leisure, taken from the ranks of the learned 
professions and the higher walks in life. Teachers, 
lawyers, doctors, and those who pray loudest in public, 
if not ministers themselves, are the leaders of riots in 
Mississippi, and their operations are against the ignorant 
and defenseless masses; in short, they are "gentlemen," 
and as such their "dignity" must be respected. Hence 

262 TJie Chisolin Massacre, 

it is that in every town and neighborhood may be found 
more or less men who walk the streets like a very jprd, 
and boast of having " killed their man ! " The writer 
can call to mind nine of the class last named, whom he 
meets on the street every day. Indeed a newspaper 
that fails to keep up with the complete details of the 
numerous tragedies which are being enacted from day to 
day is deemed wanting in the proper spirit of enterprise, 
and its patronage falls off. 

And all of this in times of " comparative peace," when 
the issues to be adjusted — if an issue is at stake — are 
free from political considerations, and exclusively between 
white men and "gentlemen." At the same time, let a 
negro be accused of a crime against one of his own race, 
even, and his punishment, after the most extreme inter- 
pretation of the law, will be swift enough ; but let the 
offense be committed by the negro against a white man, 
and the slow and cumbersome processes of a judicial 
tribunal are deemed inadequate to meet the demands of 
palpitating justice, and many times the victim is made 
to pay the penalty at once, under the lash or the hempen 
cord, according to the nature of the offense, or rather, 
according to the height of the "indignation" to be 
appeased. The will of a single white man is sufficient 
to procure the arrest and summary punishment of a 
negro at any time. These things are matters of com- 
mon observation, when the body politic is in a quiescent 
state and no direct question of section or race enters 
into or forms any material part of the subject matter 
in controversy. But once let an " exciting political 

"Home Rule'' in Mississippi. 263 

canvass " begin, such as the governor faintly alludes to in 
that portion of his late message above quoted, and such 
as is here feebly described ; then it is that a realization 
of the facts just enumerated may be felt. When all the 
bitterness, passion and prejudice engendered by the late 
war and its results, so disastrous to the material interests 
of the southern people, and so humiliating to their sec- 
tional pride, is aroused to the pitch of frenzy, then it is 
that " comparisons " become odious when speaking of 
" domestic tranquility." When the antagonisms existing 
between the old master and the late slave assume the 
attitude and alarming proportions of an "irrepressible 
conflict"; when all these influences are brought to bear, 
then it is that a light as unmistakable as that afforded 
by the noon- day sun bursts upon the view, and all the 
terrifying features of the hydra-headed monster, which 
the lovers of republican government have to confront, 
are revealed. However much the more sagacious leaders 
in the South may strive to conceal the fact, it is never- 
theless true, that in each succeeding political contest 
since the war, the issues have been very closely allied 
with those which were made the subject of debate and 
bitter contest at the beginning of that eventful period. 

The friends of republicanism meei with the same 
uncompromising opposition, that union men did in the 
South in i860 and 1861, and the stronger the hold which 
is fastened upon the government, and the greater the 
number of "Confederate brigadier " who secure seats 
in the national congress, the more bitter, persistent and 
determined seems to be the oppositioi: to everything 

264 The Chisolni Massacre. 

sought to be introduced and maintained here, that is not 
democratic in name and southern in principle. 

For generations the youth of the country have been 
educated and trained to spurn the very form of the gov- 
ernment under which they Hved and prospered for so 
many years. The same sentiment is fostered and encour- 
aged in their institutions of learning to-day. 

The cardinal principles of popular government are too 
plebeian ever to be appreciated by the high-born sons of 
the South; and a constitution which places the sturdy 
men of toil upon an equal footing with themselves in 
the management and control of national affairs, never 
has been nor never will be by them cherished and 

Thus, in an "exciting political canvass," there is no 
such thing as peace, save that peace which is secured by 
armed and organized opposition to the will of a large 
and defenseless class, in open defiance of law, justice and 
humanity — a peace purchased at the alarming sacrifice 
of the dearest rights known to an American citizen. 


The first of August following the massacre at DeKalb, 
Governor Stone received the nomination of his party, in 
general convention assembled, for continuance in the 
responsible position at the time filled by him. On the 
eleventh of the same month Phil Gully, at a primary 
canvass in Kemper county, was similarly endorsed for 
the office of sheriff; and on the sixth of the present 
month — November — the Governor was re-electd, with- 
out opposition, to fill that place of honor and trust; 
while Gully was defeated by George Welch, the present 
deputy sheriff, who ran independently. 

Already the reward of merit in the realization of a 
hope long deferred is received, and upon the regal brow 
of Welch rests the coronet of leadership in his county, 
while upon Governor Stone are lavished the highest 
honors within the gift of the whole people. 

Thus the first opportunity is improved for returning 
thanks, in a substantial manner, for the services rendered 
by these two patriots ; one chief among the conspirators 
and murderers, and the other the chief executive officer 
of the State, who, in answer to the pathetic appeal of 
Mrs. Chisolm for aid, "had no power to do anything 
at all." 

Weeks and months dragged their slow length along 
and no effort was made by any one to apprehend or 
bring these men to an account. They walked the streets 

2^ The Chisolm Massacre, 

from day to day, and rode past the homes desolated by 
their bloody hands, while the widow and orphan at the 
door, in the sable garments of mourning, were made the 
subjects of rude and insolent jest. Confident in the 
belief that no legal process would ever reach them, or 
bring their names in any public way to notice, they 
became boastful of the individual gallantry displayed on 
the memoral 29th of April, and among themselves and 
their admirers there existed a strong rivalry of opinion 
as to whom should be awarded the honor of having 
been the first, second or third to mount the breach at 
the head of the stairs and face that girl, whose white 
hands offered the only resistance to their free passage 
into the jail. It has already been told that the first one 
to enter — Rosser — met the fate he so richly deserved. 
Upon another "young man," if we are to believe the 
organ whose province is truthfully to represent the sen- 
timents of the people and record passing events, the 
Meridian Mercury ^\i2u?> been assigned the "third" place 
of distinction. The venerable editor of the paper 
alluded to, in his notice of this chivalrous scion of a 
noble ancestry, through some unaccountable fatality, 
neglected to give to the world the name of his hero, but 
leaves us with the inference that, from a safe retreat at 
the head of the stairs, the "young man" calmly viewed 
the field, and was thus enabled to tell all the girl did 
"up thar," who, to use his own language, only "run and 
screamed and hollered ! " 

During four long months of masterly inactivity on 
the part of the "local authorities," the eyes of the country 

''^ Home Rule'' in Mississippi, 267 

were turned upon Mississippi, and the voice of condem- 
nation fell heavily upon the people of the State, stand- 
ing supinely by, voluntary witnesses of open and undis- 
guised murder in their midst, without the expression of 
of a desire for the execution of the law. Through the 
continued cries for justice, there settled upon the hearts 
of a class not altogether lost to shame or remorse, the 
feeling that at least the forms of a legal investigation 
should be observed. This was strengthened and encour- 
aged by their leaders aspiring to political honors, for now 
the era of reconciliation and good will had come and 
spread its soft wings over the whole country. The olive 
branch had been extended to the "erring brethren," who 
had solemnly plighted their faith to lie down and sleep 
quietly by the confiding lamb. " Home rule and local 
-self-government" had been guaranteed to them for all 
coming time, and they were not without the hope of a 
complete restoration to the old place of power and 
influence in the political control and management of the 
government. Already the well-preserved and shapely 
outlines of the "Lost Cause" which had passed but tem- 
porarily from view, could be seen in the no distant future 
like a bright star cheering them on their lonely pilgrim- 
age. No rash act should be committed now. The cost 
of a hasty and unguarded step, showing want of sincerity 
in their professions of good faith could not be estimated, 
for it might dash to earth the cup so near the famished 

Accordingly, the September term of the circuit court 
for Kemper county was held, when, with a great sound 

268 TJie Chisolm Massacre, 

of trumpets, true bills for murder in the first degree were 
found against six or seven of the leaders in the Chisolm 
massacre. It was known and well understood in the 
community for weeks and months before, that the blood- 
iest of the gang would then be indicted. They them- 
selves knew this to be a part of the programme, and 
were by no means adverse to such a course, believing 
that the finding against them would have the effect to 
satisfy the demand for justice from abroad, and knowing 
very well that no inconvenience would ever be expe- 
rienced on account of any further interference by the 
courts, these villains looked on and viewed this farce 
with an air of quiet composure, if not absolute delight. 
The circuit judge had occupied all these months in 
which to prepare a charge to the grand jury, well calcu- 
lated in its diction and subject matter to meet the 
emergency and fall like a soft lullaby song upon the 
Northern ear. Upon this "masterly paper" the Jackson 
Clarion of October 24th — after copying the "charge" in 
full — comments as follows: 

Judge Hamm's charge to the Kemper county grand 
jury will be found on our first page. It is an invaluable 
contribution to the jurisprudence of the State, and, 
indeed, will form a separate and distinct chapter in its 
history. No member of society, no matter what his 
avocation, can fail to be benefited by reading it. It is 
"profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for 
instruction." TJie NortJiern partisan press ivJiicJi^ for- 
getting the beam in its own eyes^ have discovered no 
respect for law and order in Mississippi^ will do our 
State justice and their readers a benefit by copying this 
masterly paper. 

''Home Rule'' in Mississippi. 269 

How it is that the action of these men, sworn to 
secrecy, has been heralded to the world, after having 
found six or seven indictments for murder in the first 
degree, before an arrest or an attempt at arrest has been 
made, does not appear. The statutes of the State pro- 
vide that the accused shall be apprehended and confined 
in jail, without bail, there to await trial, and until such 
time no juryman, without violating a solemn oath, can 
reveal the secret of their finding. Are not the above 
facts, taken in connection with the Clariotis editorial on 
Judge Hamm'si charge, a sufficient proof to convince the 
most skeptical of the hollow mockery with which the 
name of "justice" is clothed in Mississippi? But we are 
not prepared to stop here with this " Picture of Home 
Rule." One more brief chapter, however, on Kemper 
county, and the dark record closes. 

In another place it is told that a colored man named 
Walter Riley was suspected of having killed one Dabbs 
some years ago. Since then little has been known of 
the facts or of Riley himself, until just before the assas- 
sination of John W. Gully, at which time, it is now said, 
Riley was seen in the neighborhood of DeKalb; and being 
unable through all the devilish enginery at their command 
to fasten the guilt of John W. Gully's untimely taking 
off upon Rush, thereby making Chisolm accessory to the 
crime, a new departure is resorted to and a plan, if pos- 
sible, more diabolical than that of murdering innocent 
men and women in open day. In the communication of 
"A Subscriber," elsewhere printed and commented upon 
— a writer evidently with a prophetic and omnipresent 

2/0 TJie Ckisohn Massacre, 

eye, who reads the thoughts of men with greater ease 
and exactness than he could read a book — we are 
informed that no negro could have been the assassin of 
the great chieftain of their clan ; that the crime was com- 
mitted by a white man who took off his victim's boots 
in order to make it appear like the work of some one 
who had the object of plunder in view. But here, as in 
former chapters, the language of the conspirators them- 
selves is used to fasten the evidence of their guilt upon 
them. Riley's relations with Gully are said to have been 
of such a nature as to warrant him, at any time — under 
the Kemper county code — in taking the life of the latter 
whenever an opportunity might offer, and presently it 
was whispered about that Riley was the guilty man. 
Accordingly, just before the sitting of the court in Sep- 
tember last, Riley was kidnapped from Tennessee, where 
he had taken refuge, and brought back to Kemper 
county, without process of a lawful requisition, or any 
other legal authority. But a few days had elapsed 
after his arrival before he was convicted of the murder 
of Dabbs and sentenced to death ; and here follows the 
denouement. Riley was to have been hanged on the 9th 
of November following his condemnation. Meantime, 
Phil Gully and his associates had free access to the 
prisoner's cell, and from time to time, it is well known, 
the condemned man was approached with the promise 
of a commutation of sentence, or a reprieve, if he would 
only say that he was the one who killed John W. Gully, 
and that it was done at the instigation of Chisolm and 
others. It is now said that Riley has confessed to 

*^ Home Rule'' in Mississippi. 271 

having killed Gully, believing himself justifiable in so 
doing, but, in the face of death, has steadily refused to 
say that any other man, living or dead, was cognizant of 
the fact. 

Meantime, it is told, that three different attempts have 
been made to burn the jail and every one in it. The 9th 
of November came, and the victim, Riley, was about 
to be led to the gallows through an immense throng of 
" good citizens," who had turned out to " hear his confes- 
sion " or to see him " dangle," when, lo ! and behold, a 
respite of thirty days comes from his Excellency, the 
Governor ! Thus thirty days' more time is given the 
Gullys, through their attorney, Mr. Woods, and the kind 
offices of the Governor, in which to devise means to 
wring from Riley a confession of the guilt of Judge 
Chisolm, whose martyred remains have long since 
become food for worms. As these pages go to press 
— November 24th — it is difficult to tell what may be 
the final result of this last and most damnable of all the 
murderous conspiracies which the history of Kemper 
county civilization furnishes proof. 

Seven months have passed since the slaughter of 
April was committed, and three since the murderers were 
indicted, and they walk the streets as freely and uncon- 
cerned as they did before the sitting of the great tribunal 
of justice, the circuit court. The newspapers of the 
South, like the Clario7i^ are loud in their praises of Judge 
Hamm and the "good people" of Kemper for uphold- 
ing " the majesty of the law," and it is now claimed thai 
northern vandalism against the good name and intent of 

2^2 The Chisolni Massacre, 

our " erring brethren," must forever cease. Possibly this 
is said with a degree of plausibility and even in good faith. 
If so, it is certainly wrong to "stir up," by unjust 
criticism, the old wounds of distrust, which the gangrene 
of sectional pride and jealousy have kept open for so 
many years. A charitable view leads one to the adop- 
tion of this theory ; and we are about to bend irl humble 
reverence and submission to its teachings, when the eye^ 
already wet with penitential tears, falls accidentally upon 
a paragraph in the Meridian Mercury, like this, and the 
dream of restored confidence vanishes like the " baseless 
fabric of this vision." Hear the Mercury once more : 

Imagination fails to conceive of anything better calcu- 
lated to turn the county over to riot and bloodshed than 
the indictment of one, or two, or many, for a crime com- 
mitted by a great number of people acting together, and 
who have boldly stood up to their acts, neither hiding 
nor shirking the responsibility. They put out of the 
way men who, for a long series of years, had made a 
mockery of that justice we have seen so efficiently 
administered for the last two weeks, and who had made 
murder and assassination safe in the county from the 
law's retribution, under the maddening provocation of an 
assassination they held themselves responsible for, and 
yet hold them. If it appear that these indictments have 
been procured to appease a northern public sentiment, 
and to gratify any home prejudices, we may expect the 
demon to be awakened again in these people now so 
calm and acquiescent in the law, and we may dread the 

The ministers of the law always make a mistake 
when they assume that the law is to be pushed straight 
through to the letter, under all circumstances, regarding 

^^Hoine Rule'' in Mississippi 273 

nothing. That sort of a mistake we fear the Kemper 
grand jury is making. 

The writer of the above is well known to the author 
of this book, and it is no more than justice to him here 
to state, in this editorial he utters the honest convictions 
of his heart. That he speaks the sentiments of the 
people generally there is no better proof needed than to 
know that for many long years he has been supported in 
this style of journalism ; that, meantime, his paper has 
grown in power and influence, and while pursuing this 
undeviating course touching these grave questions — 
consistent at least in being straightforward — the Mer- 
cury has lived to see a half dozen more liberal organs 
spring up in the same town and die for want of patron- 
age. We have not only this proof of its endorsement 
by the people, but its editor was last summer at the 
State convention, which met in Jackson the first of 
August, a prominent candidate for lieutenant-governor. 

But to this day it will be denied that there exists, or 
ever existed in Mississippi, an ungovernable element 
now familiarly styled "Bulldozers;" a class of men as 
formidable in numbers as they are brutal in instinct, dis- 
regarding alike the laws of God and man. Many of our 
incredulous friends at the North are impressed with the 
truthfulness of this denial. Here is an extract from the 
Liberty Herald, published some time in August or 
September last, headed " Bulldozing." It may throw a 
ray of light upon this subject : 

We have been asked more than once why, as a public 
journalist, we have not, through our columns, opposed 

274 '^^^^ Chisolm Massacre, 

and denounced in befitting terms the lawlessness which, 
under the above significant term, is rapidly destroying 
the material interest of our county and surrounding 
sections, and bringing us, as a community, into public 
scandal and disgrace. Our answer has heretofore been, 
we were ashamed to give any more notoriety to the 
matter than it already had, and we trusted that a 
healthy public sentiment would silently but successfully 
and speedily suppress it. But it seems we were mis- 
taken. It is not only as rampant as ever, but is steadily 
increasing in the diabolism of its acts and the audacity 
of its demands. Public sentiment, although opposed to 
it, is silent, while its advocates are noisy, blatant and 

This is followed by an article from the Vicksburg 
Herald ; for now that this great evil is falling heaviest 
upon those who have been most persistent heretofore in 
denying its existence, the "laugh" — so to speak — is "on 
the other side : " 

All our citizens feel that there is something wrong in 
regard to the protection of life and property in our 
midst, but many do not know where the cause lies. 
There is a well defined feeling that too many crimes are 
committed; that too many people are shot or cut, or 
assaulted with deadly weapons, and that there is too 
much bummerism and bulldozing of one sort and 
another. We feel that we are drifting along, and that 
the lawless are not restrained or promptly punished. 

Again His Excellency, the Governor, has been forced 
to acknowledge the virtue found in the old adage, " It 
makes a difference whose ox is gored." 

Contrast his language of May, in answer to Mrs. 
Chisolm's appeal, when he had "no power to do any- 

''Home Rule'' in Mississippi. 275 

thing at all," with that of September last, in answer to 
the call of his own distressed brethren. Here is his 
language of the latter date: 

Executive Department, ) 
, ^ Jackson, Miss., Sept. 8, 1877. \ 

Hon. A. C. McNair, Brookhaven, Miss.: 

Dear Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge receipt 

of your favor of instant, detailing the condition of 

attairs in three of the counties of southwest Mississippi 
1 am now m correspondence with leading citizens in 
those localities, with a view of ascertaining what the 
emergency demands, and then to determine what lawful 
means to adopt to meet that emergency. 

Such a state of tilings cannot be tolerated, and cost 
what It may, it must and shall be stopped. 
Yours very truly, 

J. M. Stone. 


Of the "Chisolm Massacre," the names of its active 
participants are still unknown to the outside world. 
Unwilling that they should be lost to posterity, a list of 
those most deserving of notice is furnished below : 

Henry Gully, 

Phil H. Gully, 

Bill Gully, 

Jess Gully, 

Houston Gully, 

Virgil Gully, 

Slocum Gully, 

John Gully, (Phil's son,) 

Gully, (Phil's son,) 

J ere Watkins, 
Dan McWhorter, 
Jim Overstreet, 
Robt J. Moseley, 
James H. Brittain, 
Willie Brittain, 
Tom Lang, 
John H. Overstreet, 
John Hunter, 
Jim Warren, 
Sloke Warren, 
Sam Warren, 
Baxter Cambel, 
John Cambel, 


Sanford Jordan, 

Jim McRory. 
Charles L. McRory, 
John T. Gewen, 
Tom P. Bell, 
Arch Adams, 
Bill Adams, 
John Adams, 
Dr. Stennis, 
Dr. Cambel, 
Jim Whittle, 
Robt Waddle, 
Pat J. Scott, 
J. W. Lang, 
Doland Coleman, 
Wallace Morrison, 
Peck Vandevender, 
George Hull, 
Philander Hull, 
Jess Hull, 


George Eldridge, 
Bill Clark, 
Foote McLellan, 
Dee McLellan, 
John Bounds, 

^'Home Rule" in Mississippi, 277 

Ed Davis, Ivory, 

Bill Williams, J. J. Hall, 

Joe Ellerby, Jenkins, 

Joe Hodge, Theodore Clark, 

Rufus Bounds, McWilliams, 

Ruff Turner, Ebb Felton, 

Albert Lilly, W. J. Overstreet, 

Frank Harvin, Bob Goodwin, 

Sam Harvin, Ed Weston. 
Jim Scott, 

Of these, Phil Gully, John J. Overstreet, Sam and 
Frank Hawin are each indebted to the estate of Judge 
Chisolm in sums ranging from five dollars up to one 
hundred and thirty. Tom Bell represents the county in 
the State Legislature. Ed Weston is coroner and 
ranger. J. L. Spinks, the justice of the peace whose 
name illumes so many of the preceding pages, was pro- 
moted at the November election to succeed Bell in the 
house of representatives. 

Let these names, in golden letters, be hung up along 
all the public avenues leading into the State. To the 
weary immigrant who may chance to turn, in the future, 
for a home in the soft, genial clime of Mississippi, they 
will appear like the terrifying warning inscribed against 
an entrance into Dante's ideal hell, "All hope abandon 
ye who enter here." 

Let them be placed in the capitol at Washington; 
they will inspire the "gifted Lamar" to honeyed words 
of reconciliation. The Hon. Mr. Money, when he rises 
in the seat allotted to the member from the third 
congressional district of Mississippi, will point with 

2/8 TJie Chisolni Massacre. 

pride to the names of his constituency who carried him 
through the blood of the murdered Chisolm and his 
sweet girl and boy, against an honest majority of more 
than four thousand votes in the district, thus opposed 
to him, to a place among the nation's great men. 


In the face of all the disparaging truths which these 
pages have recorded, and while the cold rains of Decem- 
ber are drenching the graves of the martyred dead, it is 
a source of gratification to know that the heart of the 
people has never ceased to beat in the fond hope of 
justice and the Nemesis yet to come. 

American womanhood is everywhere aroused to a 
sense of that deep shame which overshadows and mocks 
at our boasted chivalry, so long as the blood of Cornelia 
Chisolm is unavenged. The talent of the best writers 
has been employed in condemnation of this crime, and 
in utter execration of the depraved condition of society 
which suffers it to go unpunished. To the pen of 
Grace Greenwood, the Washington correspondent of the 
New York Times, a double debt of gratitude is due. 
This writer, from the first, has been unremitting in her 
endeavors to place the matter, in all its enormities, fairly 
before the people. Others have moulded into verse, a 
more graceful and touching tribute to the memory of the 

A letter printed in the New York Trihine the latter 
part of May following the massacre, touching the sub- 
ject of the erection of a monument in honor of the 
heroism of Miss Cornelia Chisolm, full of thought and 
well worthy the consideration of the " young men of the 
country" is here appended. It is in response to a sug- 

28o TJie CJiisolni Massacre. 

gestion which first appeared in the Indianapolis Joiirnaly 
and is worth a place in these pages : 



To the Editor of the Tribune : 

Sir : The suggestion which has been made by a 
Western paper that the ladies of the country should 
erect a monument over the grave of Cornelia Chisolm is 
one that should not be overlooked. If surprising courage 
in a sex which Nature has not formed for scenes calling 
for physical courage ; if self-devotion, if filial affection, if 
all that is most beautiful in woman deserves to be 
honored, then this generation should see to it that it 
commemorates the sublime manifestation of these quali- 
ties in that young girl. I have read no incident in the 
history of my country, from the landing of the Pilgrims 
down to the close of the last war — which was illustrious 
in deeds of individual heroism — that has so thrilled me 
with admiration for the individual, or has so elevated my 
ideas of womanhood, and, I may say, of my kind, as 
that struggle of Cornelia Chisolm against the murderers 
of her father. Nay, I defy any one to point out, in the 
annals of the past, any exhibition of high qualities which 
is more worthy of the world's reverence than this. The 
scene has already passed into history; it should be, and 
I doubt not it will be, commemorated by art, and it 
should receive the homage of a generation which she 
honored and for which she died. 

But why should women raise this memorial? it 
rather be a tribute of the young men of this country to 
womanhood, whose highest qualities Cornelia Chisolm 

^^ Home Rtile" in Mississippi. 281 

so strikingly illustrated. Let them show that the man- 
hood of this country honors woman's affection, which 
shrinks at no sacrifice or danger to protect the object 
around which it clings, and does not band together to 
shoot down an innocent girl who throws herself between 
her father and a murderous mob. And more, let such a 
memorial tell a debased civilization around it of a man- 
hood which spares weakness and does not crush it; 
which respects sex and does not make woman's helpless- 
ness the measure of its own courage ; which honors filial 
affection and does not make it a pretext for murder; 
which honors' heroism and does not assassinate it; which 
reverences sublime self-devotion and does not put bloody 
hands upon it; which has regard for innocence and law, 
and does not band together to trample upon both. Let 
it be thus at once a vindication of the manhood of this 
country, which has been shamed by an outbreak of local 
brutality, and the proclaimer of a true chivalry in a 
region where bloodthirsty ferocity, undignified by any 
noble sentiment, usurps its name. 

There is yet another reason why this monument 
should be reared by the young men of this country. It 
will be a menace as well as a memorial. Telling of what 
in human nature they reverenced most, and forming a 
silent protest against the dishonor with which it has 
met, it will suggest, inevitably, that there are arms which 
will be raised to avenge such outrages against what they 
regard as a sacred thing. A civilization which tolerates, 
defends and practices the murder of innocent women as 
a means of political intimidation, has no right to exist 
upon God's fair earth. Neither constitutional nor pre- 
scriptive right will stand before the outraged moral sense 
of mankind. The Turk is being driven out of Europe, 
and the turk must be crushed down in America. Let 
such a memorial as I have advocated speak in Missis- 
sippi this voice of the people, which, in this case, is the 

282 The CJdsolin Massacre. 

voice of God. Let it proclaim, that if that murderous 
civilization shows no signs of improvement, there is a 
power in this country which, in the fullness of time, will 
grind it to powder. Redington. 

Below is reproduced a beautiful poem by Mary Clem- 
ner, read last summer on the occasion of the celebration 
of our Natal Day, in one of the northern cities. This is 
followed by others, which have come to the notice of the 
author, during the progress of this work. The poems 
cannot fail to add interest to its pages, as they must 
certainly touch the hearts of all who read them : 

W hat do we celebrate ? 

Freedom's new birth Elate 

While on the sad East's verge, 

The sullen war waves surge, 

And lines of battle break 

In blood, "for Christ's dear sake?" 

Our bells of Freedom ring, 

Our songs of Peace we sing ; 

And do we dream we hear 

The far, low cry of fear. 

Where in the Southern land, 

The masked, barbaric band, 

Under the covert night, 

Still fight the coward's fight. 

Still strike the assassin's blow, 

Smite childhood, girlhood low ? 

Great Justice! canst thou see 

Unmoved that such things be? 

See murderers go free. 

Unsought? Bruised in her grave 

The girl, who fought to save 

Brother and sire. She died for man. 

She leads the lofty van 

Of hero women. Lift her name 

With ever-kindling fame. 

Her youth's consummate flower 

Took on the exalted dower 

Of martyrdom. And Death, 

And Love put on her crown 

Of high renown. * * * 

''Home Rule"' in Mississippi, 283 

Cease, bells of Freedom, cease! 

Hush, happy songs of Peace! 

If such things yet may be, 

"Sweet land of Liberty," 

In thee, in thee ! 

On hill top and in vale 

Lie low our brethren pale, , 

June roses on each breast, 

Beloved ! ye are blest ! 

Ye yielded up your breath, 

Ye gave yourselves to death. 

For Freedom's sake. We live 

To see her wounds. We live 

To bind her wounds. To give 

Life up for her high sake. 

If life she need. We take 

The Cross that ye laid down. 

The world may smile or frown, 

We kiss the sacred host, 

We count the priceless cost, 

We swear in holy pain, 

O ! sacrificial slain, 

Ye did not die in vain ! 



Softly breathed the coming May 
On that Southern Sabbath day. 

In that genial, sunny clime 
May days come before their time. 

Earth and sky were bright and blest 
On the holy day of rest. 

But no sound of prayer and psalm 
Rose upon the Sabbath's calm. 

And the morning sun looked down 
On a mob-beleaguered town. 

Horsemen galloped here and there, 
And their curses filled the air. 

Soon a hundred ruffians yell 
Round the home where heroes dwell 

284 The Chisolm Massacre, 

Brave Judge Chisolm scorning fear 
Though the wolves of hell were near ; 

And Cornelia, heroine rare, 

Fair and young and brave as fair ; 

Little Johnny, aged thirteen. 
Bravest boy the world has seen ! 

When the Judge to jail was led, 
" I'll go too ! " brave Johnny said. 

Sire and son walked hand in hand 
Through the threat'ning ruffian band. 

And within the prison gate 
Johnny shared his father's fate. 

When the mob, with savage yell 
On their helpless victims fell, 

Johnny stood and faltered not 
In the furious storm of shot — 

Stood beside his sister there 

On the splintered, bloody stair — 

Held the door, and kept at bay 
Fiends who would his father slay. 

Till the leader of the band 
Shot away his little hand ! 

Then, to save his sire from harm. 
He stretched out his shattered arm, 

Sprang before the powder flame 
That toward his father came, 

And received in his own form 
The full fury of the storm, 

Till his body, torn with lead. 
At his father's feet fell dead ! 

When he to his grave was borne. 
Few there were for him to mourn. 

Mississippi, murder-wild, 
Mourned not for her noblest child. 

^^ Home Rule'' in Mississippi, 285 

Not a hymn or prayer was heard, 
Priest nor preacher spoke a word. 

Only she who gave him birth 

Sigh'd the sad words, " Earth to Earth." 

Only his own mother wept 
Where her darling hero slept. 

But his little grave shall yet 
With a Nation's tears be wet. 

And through all the coming years, 
With their eyes bedimmed by tears, 

Mothers to their sons shall tell 
How heroic Johnny fell. 

Storied page and poet's song 
Shall his praises still prolong; 

And while Love and Valor live, 
Men to Johnny's name shall give 

The first place on history's page 
With the heroes of the age. 

Johnny Chisolm, aged thirteen, 
Bravest boy the world has seen I 


dedicated to MRS. JUDGE CHISOLM, 

In all the tears that woman can shed, 

With all the sympathy that woman can give; 

Into the precinct of thy heart, 

Where pierceth deep the poignant dart, 

We would not penetrate, 
E'en to uproot the pang. 'T were vain. 
Since husband, daughters, sons are slain. 
God only can remove the sting. 
Unto Him all thine offerings brincr. 

With feelings all akin to those 
Felt when we read of Him who rose 

Triumphant from the grave. 
Would we, as if in solid rock. 
Write the one universal thought, 

Our heroine died to save. 

286 The Chisolm Massacre, 

Inspired forever be thy kind, 
To nobler deeds and loftier mind, 

Our murdered heroine. 
Proud freedom's cause was on the wane ; 
It springeth to new hfe again. 

Be all the glory thine. 

Untrammeled by earth's lesser aims, 
Unfettered, free from all its pains, 

Thy spirit lingereth nigh. 
It woos us e'en to bravery, 
To die for right, if need there be. 

Avenged ! thy death we cry. 

" Vengeance is mine ; I will repay ;" 
As in the past is ours to-day ; 

The edict is his own. 
Beside Joan of Arc in fame, 
We place in mem'ry thy dear name. 

Martyred Cornelia Chisolm. 

Mrs. W. F. Lutz. 


In the characters which make up the prominent fea- 
tures of this work, are presented a considerable number of 
men whose rights and immunities as citizens of a com- 
mon country entitled them, at the outset, to equal consid- 
eration and respect with any other class. 

Alienation of birth or distinction of caste was not 
made a pretext for marking them in any way as objects 
of distrust, derision or contempt. Their daily conduct 
did not differ materially from that of the better people 
with whom they were associated. No conventionalities, 
no prejudices incident to religious belief, race or condition 
singled them from their fellows. Natives of the soil from 
which their sustenance was drawn, the interests of these 
men were identical with those of others among whom 
their life fortunes were fixed. That unfortunate genius 
to whose villainy is ascribed all the mischief and crime 
committed in the Southern states since the surrender, was 
not found among them. No one had a better right to 
judge of the wants of the community or to devise means 
for supplying its demands than they. No ^'vile carpeU 
bagger" ever polluted the sacred soil where the scenes of 
this story are laid. But as time advances the onward 
tide of thought keeps pace. In passing, truths are gath- 
ered up and errors cast off by the wayside, old land 
marks are swept away and new theories in science, art 
and statesmanship are adopted. In the course of years, 

288 The Chisolni Massacre, 

emerging from a great national convulsion, which in its 
results is said to have solved the problem of human 
bondage on the American continent and settled forever 
all the vexed questions growing out of its existence, we 
find in Kemper county, the class of men above alluded 
to, have honestly accepted the situation and in common 
with all good citizens undertaken to live and act in com- 
pliance with the requirements of the constitution and 
its late amendments. Against them are arrayed those 
who have made the overthrow of the Republic and the 
principles upon which it was reared, the one great crown- 
ing object of their lives. The first, actuated by a sense 
of duty, struggle to maintain the supremacy of the law 
and the principles of republicanism; the other, blinded 
by sectional jealously and trained in a school of hatred 
to every form of popular government, moved by the 
spirit which inspired them in 1861, are still worshiping 
the god of rebellion and disunion. 

Following the picture to its close, we find the former 
overpowered by organized and armed opposition, hum- 
bled, beaten and subjected; their leaders slain and their 
ranks broken and thinned by the assassin's bullet; while 
the latter, jubilant and defiant, conscious of their ability 
to defeat the ends of justice, and dead to human sympa- 
thy, laugh at every effort to bring them to an accounta- 
bility of their great crimes. 

On a little plateau overlooking the village of DeKalb, 
not more than one hundred and fifty yards distant from 
its business centre, stands the Chisolm cottage. At its 

'^ Home Rule'' in Mississippi. 289 

front door and windows the widowed mother watches 
for the return of her two little boys, who, with the rising 
sun leave the house for the plantation three miles dis- 
tant, where their time is employed in the endeavor to 
secure a crop with which to discharge the pressing obli- 
gations of the estate. At evening, when listening for 
their returning steps, the coarse laugh and loud curses of 
drunken revelers at the Gully grocery and other kindred 
places, are wafted to her ears. In these voices she recog- 
nizes the men whose blood-stained hands have desolated 
her hearth-stone, and robbed her of husband and children. 
At every sound of pistol or gun, trembling with fear, the 
anxious mother looks out, ever conscious of the danger 
which threatens the older boy. Clay, whose advancing 
years have already made him an object for the attention 
of his father's murderers. 

Every officer of the county, with perhaps one or two 
exceptions, and through whose hands the business of the 
Chisolm estate must pass in settlement, either partici- 
pated in the slaughter of April last, or are in active sym- 
pathy with those who did. Charhe Rosenbaum, the 
only willing and competent man in the county who 
knows anything about the late Judge's business affairs, 
under repeated threats of assassination, compelled to 
abandon his own business at Scooba, where, at the time 
of the DeKalb massacre he was a prosperous merchant, 
is powerless to render the assistance so much needed. 
While Southern statesmen of the Kemper school are 
gaining admission to the highest places in the national 
councils, the "bloody shirt" by common consent of 

290 The CJdsolni Massacre. 

their -Northern co-laborers, is sneeringly held up as a 
vulgar and unclean thing. Meantime Mrs. Chisolm, 
through the dark hours of her desolation, turns from her 
lonely watch ^ at the windows to the pictures of her 
murdered darlings, and weeps as only a wife and mother 
crushed and bruised, can do. Leaving the portraits, with 
a dead heart she turns to the room once her daughter's, 
still ornamented with the touch of her deftly fingers. 
There stands her piano, its mute keys unmoved since 
that brave right hand was struck by the assassin's bullet. 
There on the walls are Cornelia's first girlish efforts at 
art, placed in humorous contrast with those of a more 
mature date. In a corner are laid away the keepsakes 
and playthings of her happy childhood, only just passed. 
Turning from these, the mother goes softly and silently 
to the wardrobe where is carefully placed the clothing 
worn by her loved ones on that dark Sabbath of April 29. 
The first article that greets her tear-dimmed eyes is 
Cornelia's little hood, with the strings shot off and stained 
with blood. Then her clothing, from the neck to the feet 
clotted with gore and perforated with bullets, not even 
the shoes escaping the leaden charge. The shattered 
bracelet and the ball which passed through her arm, with 
the yellow metal clinging to its battered surface, next 
appear. Then Johnny's shirt, with the sleeve shot off, 
charred with burning gunpowder, and the hole in the left 
breast, four inches broad, where his heart's blood oozed 
out. Turning, the tattered garments of Judge Chisolm, 
containing blood enough to "incarnadine the multitudin- 
ous seas," are found on the other hand. There, apart 

''Home Rule'' in Mississippi. 291 

from civilization, shut out from all friendly intercourse 
menaced, and her little boy. at the very hour of this' 
writing, driven to the woods for safety; alone and with- 
out hope of relief, the patriot widow lives on. 



From a careful perusal of the preceding pages, the 
reader will see the necessity of adding another chapter 
before that picture of " Home Rule," which it was the 
original purpose of this work to furnish, and for which 
the daily record of events in Kemper County has supplied 
abundant material, may be considered complete. For 
now, as in the past, under the beatified reign of " local self- 
government," using the language of the only newspaper 
published in the county,* "From the Alabama line to 
the Mississippi river, and from the seacoast to the Ten- 
nessee line, all kinds of crimes are being daily committed 
— husbands are being torn from the bosom of their 
families, dragged away, and murdered in cold blood ; 
wives are frightened, their lives endangered and tortured 
to death ; daughters are being caught in the firm grip 
of the fiend, and a nameless deed committed upon their 
person! "Where," continues the same authority, " are 
the magistrates of peace and order, the executors of the 
law ? — men whom the people have honored with their 
respective high positions in life, and lavishly support 
them to watch over and protect them as the shepherd 
would his flock ? They are reared back, we are ready to 
assert, in their great chairs, saying, ' These things can't 
be helped.' " 

*I\.emper Herald, Jan. 2, 1878. 

'■^Home Rule'' in Mississippi. 293 

Still later * the Herald is heard in a wail of lamenta- 
tion scarcely less remarkable than that which caused the 
first murderer to cry out " My punishment is greater than 
I can bear ! " Its language must carry conviction to every 
mind that reads, as every heart will be moved by its 
earnestness and pathos. Here it is: "In conversation a 
few days since with one of the most intelligent gentlemen 
and perhaps the best lawyer in East Mississippi, he said, 
that he was confident that the many crimes now being 
committed were attributable to the fact, that the laws 
were disregarded, and looked upon as a kind of scare- 
crow for the ignorant. Men disregard their oaths, juries 
are packed, and it is utterly impossible to convict a man 
who has money or friends. What force has the law over 
money? None whatever. We have heard men say, 'I 
can commit the darkest crimes and with one thousand 
dollars can be acquitted before any court in our State ! ' 
Who will dare deny it ? Its truthfulness is plain and 
must be admitted. -'^ ^ * * The laws as executed 
are a farce, the executors g-enerally are frauds and the 
law violators know it. Our PROSPERITY IS BLIGHTED, 

The writer is in constant receipt of letters from all 
parts of the State, which corroborate fully the above; 
and, coming as these candid admissions do from a 
source authorized by themselves, their truthfulness will 
scarcely be denied in the same breath in which they are 
uttered. That a newspaper press, chiefly noticeable for 
, * March 13, 1878. 

294 ^^^ Chisolm Massacre, 

persistent endeavor to conceal the truth, should be 
quoted as the best possible authority in proving a condi- 
tion of society and morals so damaging to its own pa- 
trons, may, at a casual glance, appear strangely; but this 
seeming inconsistency is explained away in part, when 
the old adage is called to mind that there are two 
classes of people in the world proverbial for telling the 
truth. The first of these it is well known, is children. 
The editor quoted belonging to the other class, of necess- 
ity falls upon a truthful statement occasionally. 

" There prevails throughout Mississippi to-day," say 
these letter writers, " a regularly organized system of 
murder, the victims of which are almost universally col- 
ored men." But here, as in the reign of Charles the ninth 
of France, there is no bastile, no lettres de cachet. The 
one against whom an individual may fancy he holds a 
personal grievance of any kind, or the tendency of 
whose presence in the community is to unite the col- 
ored people for any political or other purpose, is charged 
with a crime which shall be nameless here — the one most 
likely to call down upon the head of the accused a 
swift and terrible retribution — and the victim is at once 
set upon by a mob of armed men and without action 
of judge or jury, suspended by the neck from a limb 
of the nearest tree. "There are upwards of seventy 
counties in the State, and at a low estimate one murder 
of the kind described," says an old gentleman, a life-long 
resident of Mississippi, " is committed in each county, 
weekly, and as there are no Republican newspapers in 
the State, not one in ten of these outrages are noticed 

""Home Rule'' in Mississippi. 295 

in the public prints." It is by this system of assassina- 
tion, terrible as the decree of Pharaoh for the strangula- 
tion of innocent babes, the negroes are to be held in 
political subjugation for all coming time. Through 
their blood the leaders of the Rebellion of 1861 are to 
regain what was lost in the eventful struggle which fol- 
lowed their treason, and by this and similar means the 
yoke of this " vulgar Yankee despotism " is eventually 
to be thrown off. " But," says one, still hugging the delu- 
sive phantom of hope, " to the rising generation we may 
look for better things ! the young men of the South are 
growing up in a better atmosphere than that which nur- 
tured and sustained the institution of slavery ! Its con- 
taminating and poisonous influence are no longer felt." 
Was there ever a more fatal error committed ? The 
young men of the South to-day are those who have ar- 
rived at youth and maturity within the past eighteen 
years, which time with them has been a continuous era 
of blood and outlawry. They are thoroughly imbued 
with all the cruelty and blood-thirstiness of their negro- 
whipping ancestry. Their hatred for the Union and the 
men whose gallantry and patriotism forced obedience to 
the laws and homage to a common flag, is fully equal with 
that of their fathers, and has the hot blood of youth to 
feed its undying flame. It is to these young men that the 
country is indebted for the Ku-Klux and Rifle Club organ- 
izations of the present. The natural bent of their genius 
is to ride, whip and shoot, and as there is no other class 
upon whom this disposition can be exercised and carried 
into practice without incurring some risk to themselves, 

296 The CJiisolm Massacre. 

the poor negro is made the target for the gratification of 
their heUish desires. To do these things well is considered 
a mark of the true spirit of the old time chivalry of the 
South, and the cultivation of these refining and manly- 
sports is looked upon with encouraging smiles by their 
sweethearts and venerable sires. "The enthusiasm of the 
young men must not be checked," is a saying which has 
passed into a proverb in the history of Mississippi politics. 
There has never been a time since the outburst of the 
great rebellion, in 1861, when secession and the doctrine 
of State rights breathed such an open air of defiance 
throughout the South as it does at the present time. 
To be fully convinced of the truthfulness of this, one 
has only to read the newspapers of that section as they 
come daily to hand, freighted with the breath of treason. 
Below is given an extract from an ode delivered before 
the Baldwin Memorial Association of Mississippi, May 
lOth, 1878, by William Walter Haskins, a youth, twenty- 
one years of age, a very prince among the young Ku- 
Klux desperadoes of the South. It is upon this class 
that the hopes of a peaceful solution of the southern 
question and a permanent union is based. 

" Tell the North that the South is ready as ever 

To lay down her life for the faith that she owns ; 
That each link of her tyrants shall valiantly sever, 

Though her weapons of war be but fence-rails and stones. 

Tell the North that our sons are all trained to remember 
The dreams and the hopes of their fathers of old ; 

Tell the North that our spirits are watchful as ever, 
Our will and our purpose as eager and bold. 

^^Hoine Rule'' in Mississippi, 297 

Tell the North that the South is a unit and mighty. 

Already the gleam of the hand 's on the wall, 
Already the first golden words have been written 

That herald proud tyranny's o'erthrow and fall. 

Oh, martyrs, from Heaven look down on her sorrow, 
And pray that her dream may at last become true ; 

That to-day 's but the eve of a gladder to-morrow, 

When the Lee of the Grey '11 beat the Grant of the Blue. 

Oh, Savior in Heaven, look down on her kneeling ; 

Oh, hear her sad heart in humility pray, 
And scatter the storm cloud so darkly concealing 

The stars and the bars of her grand C. S. A." 

Indeed what else than this may be looked for from the 
young men of the South, under the teachings of the old 
leaders, whose very atmosphere is scented with the 
blood of innocent victims and filled with seditious 

Mr. Davis, in his secession speech at Miss. City, 
delivered July lO, 1878, said: "Representing no one, 
it would be quite unreasonable to hold any other 
responsible for the opmions which I entertain." But 
young Haskins, it appears, entertains precisely the same 
views expressed by his illustrious prototype and chief- 
tain. And so it is: every newspaper of the South 
re-echoes the sentiments so recently uttered by the 
ex-president of the late Confederacy, and these are tJie 
sentiments of the southern people. 

Representing no one, and no longer ambitious of polit- 
ical honors, Jeff. Davis feels free to speak, and from his 

298 The Chisoltn Massacre. 

own we may judge well of the sentiments of southern 
statesmen of the present day, who can only hope to 
reach the goal of their ambition through hypocritical 
professions of love for the Union and the old flag, while 
their hearts remain a sealed book. 

When it was first publicly announced that a work of 
this kind was contemplated — pending the execution of 
Walter Riley — southern newspapers were loud in their 
calls for the author to write and append a "Sequel to 
the Chisolm Massacre," which, as before intimated, it was 
then confidently believed by the inquisitors, would be 
furnished by the colored man, Riley, in the form of a 
confession on the gallows, clearly implicating Judge 
Chisolm, Gilmer and others, in the murder of John W. 

On the 7th of December, 1877, simultaneously with 
the issue of the first edition of this book, Walter Riley 
expiated, at De Kalb, Mississippi, according to the forms 
of law, whatever crime he may have been guilty of; and 
now, in the second edition of the "Chisolm Massacre," it 
affords the writer infinite satisfaction to be able to pre- 
sent to the world the much coveted "sequel," then and 
there furnished by the condemned man, in the presence 
of death and a thousand living witnesses. Just what 
was there said and done was taken down at the time 
and on the spot by "Hanson," a well-known correspond- 
ent of the Cincinnati Gazette^ and is reproduced here. 
It affords a fitting chapter with which to close a record 
of this kind, and with it we would gladly let the dark 
mantle of shame fall upon and ever after hide from the 

''Home Rule'' in Mississippi, , 299 

sight of their fellows a people thus self-condemned and 

" In cowardice so mean, in infamy so vast, 
That hell gives in and devils stand aghast." 


Extraordinary Scene at a Mississippi Gallows, 


[Special Correspondence Cincinnati Gazette. ] 

ScooBA, Kemper Co., Miss., Dec 7, 1877. 
Another act in the series of Kenaper tragedies has just 
closed, and the body of Walter Riley lies in the soil of 
the sand hill and under the pine boughs, where at 11.20 
A. M. to-day he met his fate. This was my first view of 
a hanging, and though I have seen death in many shapes, 
I never saw a man approach eternity with such perfect 
bearing of a hero. In full health, in the prime of life, in 
his sober senses, and after nearly two hours' literal 
torture from questioners, this criminal died with a 
resignation equally removed from sullen despair, brazen 
hardihood and maudlin sensibility. But connected with 
this execution were events which can never be fully 
understood by the people of the North. In this man's 
consciousness lay the key to the Gilmer and Chisolm 
tragedy. With one word this mulatto might have 
brought joy to hundreds in Kemper county; but that 
word he declared he could not honestly speak. If he 
had only said that Chisolm and Gilmer instigated him to 
assassinate John W. Gully he would then have justified 
the murderous mob of April 29th, and brought relief to 

300 The Chisolm Massacre, 

many a sore conscience. Hence the extraordinary scenes 
at the gallows to-day. For a month past, since Riley's 
last reprieve, every effort has been made by those inter- 
ested to lead him to admit the complicity of Judge 
Chisolm in the murder. Friends of the Gully clan 
have been freely admitted to his presence, and all others 
denied; and when he escaped and was found in the 
Chisolm gin-house, there was positively a shriel^ of joy 
at this Hnk in the chain of evidence. But even this 
proved to be of no consequence, and hence the fearful 
anxiety of the crowd to-day to extort a confession more 
to their liking. 

The prisoner was brought from the jail at an early 
hour, there being a heavy body oi guards all around with 
double-barreled shot-guns, formed in hollow square 
around the cart. By courtesy of the sheriff your cor- 
respondent and Dr. E. Fox, attending physician, were 
placed inside the guard line; and in this order we moved 
slowly to the grove east of town, there being about four 
hundred persons present, nearly all white men and boys. 
No white ladies and very i^\N colored people were pres- 
ent. Riley, who was a good looking quadroon, or light 
mulatto, conversed with perfect ease, and looked around 
with evident interest on the scenes he was viewing for 
the last time. The day was one of extraordinary beauty, 
even for this fine climate. There was not a cloud in the 
sky; the air was dead calm, save when a faint south 
wind wafted over us the odor of the pines. The cart 
stopped with the animals that drew it on the very verge 
of his grave, and the prisoner, rising briskly, sprang up- 
on the scaffold in an easy, graceful manner, as if he were 
in a hurry. The gallows was of the rudest description. 
Two upright beams, a cross piece at the top, from which 
hung a slip noose; below a narrow platform, supported 
at one end by a rope which was tied around the upright. 
The guards stood about the scaffold, surrounding the 

''Home Rule'' in Mississippi. lO\ 

Sheriff and assistants, Dr. Fox and myself; and the 
carpenter, pointing to the coffin in the rear end of the 
cart, kindly suggested that I might rest my paper on it 
to take down his last words. Glancmg around the 
throng, I saw that my presence there had excited 
immense curiosity, not altogether unmixed with delight, 
and as the guard in a minute or two had scattered 
among the throng, two or three of the ruder sort crowded 
up and whispered : " Take down every word he says— 
he'll confess, I tell you, he'll confess, confess who put him 
up to it." And in the moment or two of preliminaries such 
murmurs ran around the throng as " Now you'll hear the 
truth about Chisolm and John Gully," " He'll tell it all, 
he said he would;" " He'll tell who paid him for it and 
gave him the gun," etc. The life of the man was 
nothing, all interest centered in ^he statement he was to 


Being asked by the sheriff if he had anything to say, 
the condemned replied: "A great deal; I want to talk 
about an hour;" and again there was a stretching for- 
ward of necks, and a general murmur, "It's coming." 
Then said the sheriff: " Men, Walter Riley will speak to 
you. Let all be attentive." And the prisoner stepped 
to the front, and bowing gracefully, spoke as follows: 

" Well, I stand here on the brink of eternity to address 
my old neighbors and friends for the last time. But I 
feel that, wicked as I have been, I am freely forgiven, and 
am going to a merciful God. I have been a wicked man, 
but now I feel no fear— no fear of the great God, and 
only sorrow for those I leave. For my poor old mother, 
whose heart is almost broken this day, and for my wife 
and three poor little children, away up in Tennessee." 
(At this point the prisoner faltered a moment, but m a 
moment resumed in a calm and dignified tone.) " I have 
been a bad man, and you see it has brought me to a bad 
end. My grave is dug in the woods as though I was a 

302 TJie Chisolm Massacre. 

wild man, and my portion is among the despised. I am 
not to be laid to rest with my race, nor numbered as one 
among the dead of my people. But that gives me no 
concern for God will raise me up even from this sand hill 
in the pine forest, and I will stand with you all on that 
awful day. I fear not the face of this congregation, for 
I am soon to stand before a mightier congregation than 
this earth ever saw. I forgive all who have injured me, 
and beg forgiveness of all. I bless my friends and I bless 
my enemies. I am guilty of these two murders, and I 
alone am guilty, but I have truly repented, and hope for 

The prisoner here exhorted at great length, and 
several times repeated his confession of having killed 
Bob Dabbs in 1871, (the crime for which he was con- 
victed) and John W. Gully last April; then kneeled and 
offered a fervent prayer. He then confessed again and 
was silent. 

Sheriff. — " Would any of the people like to ask Walter 
a question?" 

Then ensued a performance the like of which probably 
was never witnessed at any legal execution. A murmur 
of questions rose on all sides, a dozen speaking at once, 
till the sheriff said : 

"Let Dr. Fox talk?" 

Dr. F. — "Walter you told me when we last talked that 
you killed John Gully, and that you were alone. Was 
that correct ?" 

" It was." 

" Were you hired to do it ?" 

" No, sir." 

" Remember, Walter, you are going into eternity soon, 
and if you can speak a word to relieve the minds of the 
people, do it, please do it, for your own sake and the 
sake of this distracted country." 

From all sides the cry wa repeated: "Tell us, 

''Home Rule'' in Mississippi. 303 

Walter, tell us why you killed John Gully. Tell us who 
got you to do it, and relieve the minds of the people." 

"Well, (hesitatingly) I might say I was persuaded to 
do it^but only by bad company." 

"Walter, Walter!" almost shrieked an old man in the 
crowd, " Don't you know there is no hope of a heaven 
for you if you go into eternity with a lie in your mouth ?" 

"Yes, I know that." 

"And don't you know that if you keep back the truth 
it's as bad as to tell a lie ? " 

Sheriff, (impatiently).— "Yes, yes, Walter understands 

all that." 

Old man. — "Then let him speak and relieve the minds 
of the people. God cannot forgive anybody who keeps 
back the truth." 

And from all sides again came the appeal : " Tell us, 
Walter, what led to the murder of John Gully." 

i^Well," — a long pause — "I was persuaded to do it." 

"Who? Who? Who persuaded you ?" 

" Well, only bad company." 

"What bad company? Who was it ?" 

« Well, I call all that bad company that leads a man 
to drinking, and from that. to murder." 

"Oh, dear, dear, dear,' groaned the old man, "he's 
going into the presence of God with a lie in his mouth." 

I now saw that Dr. Fox was deeply affected. And 
here I take occasion to say that he appears to me the 
most intelligent and high-minded man I have met in this 
county ; and I confess myself under great obligations to 
him while here. He spoke again : 

" Walter, don't you see that these people are troubled 
in their minds? In your mouth lies the issue of life and 
death to the persons here. You may save the innocent 
by pointing out the guilty. You have to die — no one 
here can help or hurt you. Tell us if you have any 
other knowledge, and give relief to the innocent and the 

304 The Chisolvi Massacre. 

But the prisoner, with the same calm dignity and 
measured tone, without a trace of fear, repHed : 

" Doctor, I knows I'ze got to die. Man can't save me. 
I only am guilty." 

A young man spoke: "Whose gun did you kill him 

"Well, it was a gun I had." 

"But whose?" 

"Well, one I had." 

Driver of cart. — " Did you bring it from Tennessee 
when you came to kill John Gully?" 

" I didn't come purpose to kill him. I was working 
down this way on the railroad. That's how I came to 
be here." 

■* Then why did you kill him ?" 

" Well, I heard he was after me." 

Again the blear-eyed old man sang out, in cC sort of 
whining tone : " God can't forgive anybody who keeps 
back part of the truth. Tell it all, Walter." Then from 
all sides rose a confused shout: "Tell it!" "Tell it!" 
"You've got to die for it." "Them as brought ye here 
ought to be known." " There's no reprieve for ye this 
time." (Referring to the fact that he had previously been 
respited when on his way to the gallows.) 

" They's too many talking," said the sheriff angrily. 

" Let Dr. Fox talk to him." 

" Yes," said the doctor; " I believe Walter will tell me. 
Whose gun was it, Walter?" 

" I got the gun from Hezzy Jack." 

" Ah-ah-ah," ran around the crowd; "it's comin' now, 
he'll tell all about it now." 

But he didn't. At any rate, he did not tell what they 
wanted to hear. He said he got the gun of Hezzy Jack, 
and that he knew Jack worked for Judge Chisolm. 

Then Dr. Fox came to the direct question : 

" Did you see Judge Chisolm or Gilmer about it ?" 

^^Home Rule'' in Mississippi, 305 

" No, sir; never," 

" Did they send you any word ?" 

" No, sir ; if they did I never got it." 

Again the blear-eyed old man groaned out, " O, Walter, 
Walter, tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but 
the truth, or you can never enter Heaven." 

For over an hour did this sickening business go on, the 
poor, tortured man replying always with gentleness and 
dignity that beyond what he had stated he knew noth- 
ing, and the whole crowd urging and contradicting him 
in half-whispers. It seemed to me the most curious, 
irregular and illegal proceeding ever had in any civilized 
country. Then Mr. Brame, a magistrate, and a very fair 
minded man, I think, from my acquaintance with him, 
said : 

"Walter, let me tell you the law. What you say 
now can't be used against any one. You are dead in law. 
No one can be touched unless there is other evidence 
than yours. But it is to satisfy the minds of the people. 
There is a mystery about the death of John Gully that 
must be cleared up. Can't you tell who persuaded you 
to kill him, and give this community relief?" 

" Mr. Brame, I can't go before God with a lie in my 
mouth. If any white man had anything to do with it I 
don't know it. Nobody ever sent me any word that I 
ever got. Only I told Hezzy Jack, and he said 'all right; 
go ahead.'" 

The whole crowd then fell to questioning again, and 
and elicited the fact that Riley took $40 in money, a hat, 
pair of boots, and roll of cloth from Gully. In the 
midst of the hubbub the sheriff suddenly called out : 
"William Riley, will you come up here?" and a venerable 
old man ascended the scaffold. The prisoner began to 
whisper to him, when the crowd shouted : " Louder, 
louder; let us all hear." The aged man, who was a 
preacher, turned to the crowd and said : " Brethren and 

3o6 The Chisohn Massacre. 

friends, I have a few words with you. That man (point- 
ing to the prisoner,) was once my property. He still 
bears my name. He was a bad boy, as he told you; 
but I am not come here to play the detective on him ; 
I came only to exhort him to true repentance. ' He that 
confesseth his sins only shall be forgiven.'" The old man 
then offered a fervent prayer, and said : "Walter, in a 
very few minutes you are to stand before God. I believe 
it is the will of God that you should confess to this 
people. Keeping back the truth is as bad as a lie. Tell 
it Walter, tell it all, and may the great Searcher of hearts 
accept you in his everlasting kingdom." 

Walter. — " No, no ; I cannot die with a lie in my 
mouth, and I cannot say what this crowd wants me to 
say. I am guilty. I cannot bring an innocent man into 
this thing. O, my friends, you do not believe me now, 
I know you do not ; but the great day will come when 
in the presence of a far mightier congregation than this, 
you will know I have told the truth; and with these 
words I am willing to meet my God." 

For the first time he showed signs of impatience, but 
the crowd persisted in questioning him about his attempt 
to escape from jail. He replied that the file was fur- 
nished by a friend, and he did not think a just God would 
require him to betray that friend. He insisted that the 
Chisolms knew nothing of his escape, and that Bird, 
Clay Chisolm's cousin, only knew it when he went to the 
gin-house. Again and again did the crowd urge him, 
and always with the phrases, " There is trouble and sor- 
row among us," " Do speak and relieve the minds of 
this people," etc. At last, when this torturing process 
had lasted an hour and a half, the sheriff ended it by 
summoning a colored preacher, who offered prayer. 
Walter took the hymn book, and he himself gave out two 
Hnes at a time, in the Wesleyan method, the hymn — 

''Home Rule'' in Mississippi. 307 

" And must this feeble body fail, 
And must it sink and die? 
And some shall quit this mournful vale, 
And soar to worlds on high." 

He led the singing in a dear voice, then sang a short 
hymn alone; knelt and offered a moving prayer. His 
brothers and a few colored people hurried up to bid him 
good-bye. His old master came, shook hands fervently, 
and hurried away into the forest, the tears streaming 
down his face. The black gown was put on him, and 
the black cap was drawn over his head, and the rope 
adjusted; then said he, "I want to speak last to Dr. 
Fox." The doctor hurried forward, and such was the 
anxiety of the crowd for a confession that there were 
murmurs all around, '' Ah, he'll tell who hired him now ; 
he didn't believe he was to die before." But, as the 
doctor told me, Riley only murmured in his ear. 

There was an awful pause. His Hps moved in prayer. 
The sheriff severed the rope with a single blow, and, 
though Riley fell but tvv^o feet, his neck was broken and 
he died almost without a struggle. From first to last 
he had not exhibited a tremor of fear; nothing more 
than a slight impatience at the persistent questioning. 
Vital action continued for twenty minutes. With him 
died all knowledge of causes for the killing of John W. 
Gully — that act which was the pretext for the awful 
tragedy of April 29. Could this man have told what 
this crowd so longed for him to say, he would have 
lifted a heavy weight from some men's consciences this 
day. * "^ ^ I was leaving De Kalb 

with a sad heart, for I could, in the interest of truth, 
but illy requite the courtesies extended by a few men ; 
when Dr. Fox first stopped me in the pine grove and 
urged me to express as charitable a judgment as possi- 
ble. Said he : " At least say this in your report, that 
whether or not Chisolm and Gilmer conspired to have 
Gully killed, these people fully and honestly believed it. 

3o8 The Chisolin Massacre, 

I see in your eye that the events of to-day are proof to 
you that they did not, but consider and say that they 
think they have proof the other way. And say that 
everybody here regrets the death of Johnnie and Cor- 
nelia Chisolm, and that only the long series of troubles 
could have brought about that mob. Good-bye, and 
God bless you," and he wrung my hand and galloped 

His request is herewith granted, and I will further add 
my own opinion, that the great error in Judge Chisolm 
was in the iron rule he exercised over this county by the 
the aid of negro votes. It could not be patiently borne 
by white men. But neither that nor any other wrong 
can palliate the massacre of April 29. Only let the 
other facts be also stated, if they relieve anybody's 

Now, after all this, imagine my astonishment on reach- 
ing this place at dark to learn that it had already been 
telegraphed to Gov. Stone that Walter Reiley, on the 
scaffold, had virtually confessed he was urged to kill 
John W. Gully by a negro in the employ and intimate 
companionship of Judge Chisolm; and that he had 
virtually connected the Judge with the murder. And 
perhaps this statement is even now flying over northern 
wires, and a million people will read it to-morrow morn- 
ing. Well, may be it's a sort of providence that I staid 
to the execution. I'm a swift witness that Walter 
Reiley's statement did not implicate either Chisolm, 
Gilmer, Hopper or Rosenbaum. HANSON. 


At the February term of the United States court for 
1878, the case against the Gullys and others, alluded 
to elsewhere, for conspiring together to prevent Judge 
Chisolm from advocating his election to Congress in the 
year 1876, was called. Of the result of that trial the 
Vicksburg Herald at the time spoke as follows : " The 
citizens of Kemper county, recently tried in Jackson for 
violation of the enforcement act, were triumphantly ac- 

These "citizens" are the same who committed the 
wholesale murders at DeKalb in April of the preceding 
year, and each of the five victims of that slaughter, it 
will be borne in mind, if permitted to live would have 
furnished overwhelming evidence of the guilt of the 
accused in the case referred to, now so happily and " tri- 
umphantly "disposed of. Had the "citizens of Kemper" 
known or dreamed when apprehended, that, upon trial, 
they were to be dealt with thus tenderly by the United 
States authorities, and made the objects of such deferen- 
tial consideration by the people at large, it is possible 
that Judge Chisolm and his children, and Gilmer and 
McLellan might have been living to-day. At all events 
the immediate cause leading to their death would thus 
have been temporarily removed ; for, as transpires, the 
accused could just as well have been " triumphantly acquit- 
ted " without this appalling sacrifice of innocent blood. 

3IO The Chisolm Massacre, 

Whatever may have been the disposition of the officers of 
the court to punish, the very idea of a prosecution of 
this case from the outset, seemed to be regarded by all in 
the light of a farce, and in its results the trial itself only 
goes to confirm the truth sought to be impressed upon 
the reader in another chapter of this work, viz : that 
the Federal courts are as impotent and inoperative in 
Mississippi as those of the State. The natural and 
settled prejudice against Federal authority in the South is 
such as to make this true although the subject involved 
may have no political significance whatever; but let the 
question of civil or political rights be raised, and there is 
at once a moral pressure brought to bear, which defies 
all law and scoffs at the very name of justice, and there 
is no force either moral or physical — be it said with 
humiliation and shame — within the general Government 
as it exists to-day, capable of reaching this great evil. 

Notwithstanding the presence at this trial in Jackson, 
of Mrs. Chisolm, her son Clay, and a score of other 
unimpeachable w^itnesses for the government not yet 
murdered, and in face of the fact that the guilt of these 
men is nowhere denied, the charge of Judge Hill to 
the jury and the feeble objections interposed by District 
Attorney Lea to the extraordinary latitude assumed by 
the defense and allowed by the court, the case was at 
once placed beyond the pale of a possibility of a success- 
ful prosecution, and every effort to procure a conviction 
was relaxed. Four of the prisoners under bond at the 
outset, defied the authority of the court, and sent the 
following certificate in lieu of answering in person : 

^''Home Rule'' in Mississippi. 311 

State of Mississippi, 

Kemper County. 
I, George L. Welsh, Sheriff of Kemper county, 
certify that WiLLiAM H. GuLLY, Jesse Gully, Hous- 
ton Gully, and Virgil Gully, parties against whom 
indictments are pending in the United States court 
at Jackson, are now under arrest by me, and in my cus- 
tody, and that the law of our State does not allow bail 
in their cases. Signed, GEO. L. WELSH, 

-c» , 00 Sheriff of Kemper County. 

February 4, 1878. ^ ^ 

A forfeiture of bond was taken in these cases, the Dis- 
trict Attorney summoned courage enough to issue alias 
capiases returnable instanter, and a deputy marshal was 
dispatched with writs and an order from the court to 
bring the defaulting prisoners if not actually in the 
county jail or the custody of the sheriff. Proceeding to 
DeKalb, the deputy found and arrested one of the par- 
ties unattended on the streets, and after much parleying 
and persuasion, all consented to accompany him, with the 
accommodating sheriff, to Jackson, where they appeared 
upon the streets armed to the teeth. " In due time," 
says the Jackson Times, " they appeared before the 
court and remained in Jackson during the trial two days, 
going and coming as they pleased without the least 
restraint being exercised over them. Accused and wit- 
nesses for both the prosecution and defense mingled freely 
together during their forced (?) visit to the capital, and 
to use a stereotyped expression, the utmost harmony 
and good feeling prevailed. 

These proceedings, coupled with the document fur- 
nished by " Geo. L. Welsh, sheriff," are in themselves, 

312 The Chisolm Massacre, 

convincing proof of the manner in which the " citizens 
of Kemper" county are punished for crime, either by the 
State or Federal courts. WilHam H., Jesse, Houstin 
and Virgil Gully are all -under indictment in the circuit 
court of Kemper county for murder, " and," in the 
language of the sheriff, " the law of the State does not 
allow bail in their case," yet, instead of languishing in 
jail from month to month until their trial shall take 
place, these self-convicted murderers and outlaws go 
scott free on their " parole of honor." More than a 
year has passed since William H. Gully and his confed- 
erates shot Cornelia and Johnny Chisolm to death. 
Virgil, it was, who emptied the contents of a loaded gun 
into Gilmer's back, while Jim Brittain, the deputy sheriff, 
held his hands. Nearly a year has passed since the 
indictments were found, and tJiey have never been ar- 

Federal pgwer, feeble and inefficient at best, has en- 
tirely withdrawn its hold, where the constant presence 
of its strong arm was the only guarantee of domestic 
tranquility, and that form of government prescribed by 
the constitution for each and every State. The presi- 
dent himself, as silent as the graves of the martyrs, has 
never so much as placed the seal of his personal, much 
less his official, condemnation upon this great over- 
shadowing national crime, and these men are now busily 
employed in circulating a petition for their complete 
pardon and absolution from all sin, through the execu- 
tive of the State, who is chiefly remarkable for having 
"no power to do anything at all." 


From the date of the Kemper county tragedy and the 
earliest commencement of this volume, up to the present 
time, the original purpose of the author has never been 
abandoned. Though disappointed in the reception of 
the work by the people at the outset, embarrassed by 
lack of pecuniary means to carry it to that degree of 
success which money alone so often accomplishes for pur- 
poses having less merit; deceived, delayed and embar- 
rassed by placing the work into the hands of an impe- 
cunious, avaricious and fraudulent — so called — publishing 
house; the labor of bringing our picture of " Home 
Rule" fairly to the attention of the patriotic and justice- 
loving men and women of the country has been attended 
with many disparaging obstacles and rebuffs. 

After the first outburst of indignation and horror felt 
in regard to the Kemper county tragedy, coming just at 
the time when the pronounced policy of the administra- 
tion had spread the wet blanket of conciliation, smother- 
ing and stultifying party fealty and every spirit of manly 
patriotism, there settled upon the country a silence and 
apathy so profound as to impress all freedom-loving 
hearts with a feeling not unlike that produced by the still- 
ness which precedes the coming storm. The metropoli- 
tan journals of the country, heretofore conspicuous for 
manly advocacy of the great truths which form the 
foundation stone upon which the superstructure of our 

314 TJie CJiisolm Massacre. 

government rests, the acknowledged organs of the party 
leaders, for the most part, observed the same ominous 
silence upon this and all other matters touching the poht- 
ical situation in the southern States ; and their notices of 
the " Chisolm Massacre " were meagre and generally 
occupied obscure corners among the " book notices," 
without the responsibility of editorial sanction. Admit- 
ting in one issue that the constitution and laws in many 
of the southern States were subverted, and that through 
blood and violence a large proportion of the citizens 
of that section were disfranchised; while in the next 
breath they would as loudly declare the southern ques- 
tion to be dead and among the things of the past. 
The party leaders themselves, to whose attention the 
work and the objects which it aims to accomplish, were 
repeatedly called, seemed as loth to give the subject 
public endorsement as the newspapers or the president, 
who was then traveling through Tennessee and 
Georgia, apologizing to southern rebels for the very 
humble part borne by himself in whipping them into 
obedience to the laws. But believing he is best armed 
whose cause is just, the author and pubhsher has strug- 
gled on, aided here and there by a warm and earnest 
heart, never for a moment losing hope in the true nobility 
of American character, its genuine patriotism, just 
appreciation of exalted womanhood, and all the virtues 
which adorn and beautify the highest type of modern 

About the first of January, through the .efforts of a 
few devoted friends, Mrs. Chisolm and Mrs. Gilmer, both 

This beautiful monument of white bronze is to be erected over 
the graves of the Chisobii martyrs, in Cedar Hill Cemetery, Clinton 
County, Pennsylvania, by J. C. Sigmund, Esq. Height of monument, 
20 feet 4 inches; base, 6x6 feet. 

''Home Rule"' in Mississippi. 31 5 

widowed by political assassination, and in destitute 
circumstances, were given clerkships, the first in the 
Treasury, and the other in the War Department, at 
Washington, where they still labor for daily bread. 

Meantime the book found its way, step by step, to 
the hearts of attentive readers throughout the northern 
States, and Mr. J. C. Sigmond, a kind hearted and 
benevolent stranger friend, living near Lock Haven, in 
Pennsylvania, made a liberal proposition to furnish a 
lot and erect a monument, a cut of which is hereby 
appended, in Cedar Hill cemetery, a somewhat retired, 
though beautiful and picturesque place, near his own 


Further than this, the first twelve months passed with 
apparently slow progress in the accomplishment of the 
work thus discouragingly begun. But it is said God 
moves in a mysterious way. Murdered as the victims 
were, by savages in open day on the Sabbath, within 
* sight and hearing of three edifices whose spires point 
upward to the Throne of Grace; surrounded by sweet 
flowers, cultivated fields and green pastures; within the 
domains of a government which had its birth and stal- 
wart growth in a gigantic struggle for human rights; 
buried as they had been slain, like beasts, and without 
christian obsequies, a whole year went by and no funeral 
services were held, no arrests were made, and no 
public recognition whatever, either by church or state 
was given this great national crime; and but for the 
efforts of a few who never ceased to labor, its terrible 
details would now have been forgotten, and the heroic 

3i6 The CJiisolm Massacre, 

virtues of the dead cherished only in the hearts and 
memories of those who knew and loved them most. 

The month of May came and with it the days of the 
first anniversary of the Chisolm massacre, when at the 
adopted home of the widowed mother — the nation's 
capitol — where assemble from year to year the chosen 
representatives of the people and judges of the law, 
upon whose talents, integrity and patriotism is based 
the hope of a final and satisfactory solution of the great 
problem of human liberty, it was confidently believed 
by earnest friends that proper ceremonies might be held 
in commemoration of a father who died because he 
loved his country, and that all who knew the sad story 
of their martyrdom would hasten to do homage to the 
memory of his children, who died because they loved 
their father. A member in good standing of the Meth- 
odist Episcopal church, Mrs. Chisolm, at the solicitation 
of friends, sought the assistance of the Rev. Dr. Lana- 
han, of the Foundry M. E. Church, the place where the 
president and Mrs. Hayes worship. On being invited to 
conduct memorial services, on Sunday, the 19th of May, 
the Sabbath nearest the anniversary of Cornelia's death, 
which took place on the 15th, the reverend gentleman 
politely declined to do so, giving various reasons therefor, 
and among others, this: "Washington was not the home 
of the deceased, their death had occurred a long time ago, 
and it was now too late to revive recollections of the pecu- 
liar circumstances attending their demise, all of which had 
been well-nigh forgotten." Not only did he do this, but, 
when asked to announce from his pulpit the fact that the 

''Home Rule'' in Mississippi. 31/ 

desired services would be held at the Metropolitan church, 
he declined to respond affirmatively to this request, giving 
the reason for so declining — after having been first asked 
to conduct the ceremonies himself— that he was not in 
the habit of inviting people away from his own church. 
In these objections Doctor Lanahan was well sustained 
by the democratic press of the country, from which 
there went up a howl like that of a jackal over a 
newly made grave, protesting against these solemn rites, 
because of the political significance which might 
attach, detrimental to the great party of reform. But 
from this the error should not be committed that it is 
sought here to impress a belief that the Christian Church 
is everywhere dead to the dictates of patrotism and 
common humanity The church is presumed to be 
human and like human nature everywhere, has its bright 
and glorious, as well as dark and unlovely side. The 
atmosphere surrounding Dr. Lanahan in his little pas- 
torate, fortunately, does not comprehend the broad uni- 
verse in its grasp. There are churches beyond the 
power and influence of Democratic newspapers ; churches 
surrounded and controlled by a better influence than 
those of Kemper county or that in which the president 


Turning, somewhat disheartened from the Foundry, 
the Metropolitan church presided over by the Rev. Dr. 
Naylor, was next appealed to, and not in vain. Dr. 
Naylor at once consented to perform the desired cer- 
monies and the distinguished services of the Rev. Dr. 
Haven, Bishop of the M. E. church, resident at Atlanta, 
Georgia, was called to his assistance. Following the 
announcement of this fact, Sunday morning the 19th of 
May came, when the capacious pews and aisles of the 
Metropolitan church were filled to overflowing with 
sympathizing friends, those in full accord with the occa- 
sion and the objects sought to be attained. Among 
these were a large number of men and women the most 
honored in Washington. The church choir, one of 
more than ordinary merit, had selected and practiced 
suitable music which was rendered in an impressive man- 
ner. The sermon delivered by Dr. Naylor, was care- 
fully prepared and breathed a spirit of christian grace and 
resignation. He was followed by Bishop Haven in a dis- 
course which moved the hearts of that vast assembly 
as, perhaps, a church auditory was never moved before. 
The ominous silence which for so long a time had settled 
like a dark pall over the country, closing the eyes of the 
people against a terrible truth only because its contem- 
plation gave them p'ain, was here broken. The eloquent 
appeal of Bishop Haven went straight to the hearts and 
consciences of his hearers, and -that sympathy and 

"Home Rule" in Mississippi, 319 

patriotism so long slumbering in their breasts, was by it 
fanned into a flame, and despite the place and occasion, 
found vent in continued bursts of applause. As hoped 
and believed, the feeling aroused on that day has contin- 
ued to spread. The " Ladies' Chisolm Monument Asso- 
ciation " followed soon, in a movement to raise money 
through the sale of this volume, it being deemed the 
most practical means through which the proposed 
monument could be erected, while, by this agency alone 
the important truths contained in the work would 
become more widely known and better understood. 

Foremost in this movement are found the honored 
names of Mary Clemmer, Mrs. Lippincott, (Grace Green- 
wood), Mrs. H. C. Ingersoll, and many others if not so 
widely known, equally earnest and true. 

The demand for copies of the " Chisolm Massacre," 
from that day began to increase, and all that remained 
of the first edition was rapidly taken up. In response 
to the "Address to the Women of the Country," letters 
of encouragement and orders for books are now coming 
in from all parts. While there is no longer a doubt as to 
the ultimate success of the enterprise, to those who are 
entrusted with its labor, many rugged obstacles are yet 
presented, and it is only through the persistent individual 
effort of those whose hearts are really enlisted, that 
we may look for a realization of our cherished hopes. 

Thankful for the many kindnesses already extended, 
never losing sight of the glorious objects to be attained, 
those who have undertaken the accomplishment of this 
work, will press steadily forward until the goal is reached. 

Washington, D. C., Aug., 1878. 


An address delivered by Bishop Haven at Metropolitan church, Washington, May 19, 
1878, in commemoration of the martyrdom of the Chisolm family. 

It is an instinct of man that funeral rites should 
accompany his body to its long home. The ancient 
heathen could not cross the Styx and reach the Elysian 
fields if his body lacked the proper ceremonies of sepul- 
ture. However hasty the flight of the living, he must 
still pause long enough to throw three handfuls of dust 
upon the corpse of his comrade, and pronounce a solemn 
hail and farewell. Otherwise that companion must 
wander a hundred years on the shaded side of the land 
of shades ere he finds repose and bliss. 

What is instinct is also religion. Christianity lays alike 
necessity upon its devotees and the peoples to whom it 
is the only religion, even when they are not its devotees. 
One shrinks less from the cremation fires than from 
the faithless, hopeless and riteless circumstances that 
attend that act. No prayer, no word of sympathy, no 
hymn of consolation, no hint of reunion accompany the 
dread burning. The ancient employers of this mode of 
burial were less irreverent. To the height of their relig- 
ious knowledge they performed this sad service. 

In accordance with this race-honored custom, we come 
together to-day to engage in the solemn duties demanded 
by the dead, no less than by the living. We come to 
bury, not to praise. We come to satisfy the just long- 
ings of a widowed and child-reft heart, of a fatherless 
and sisterless family, that their dead may be decently 
buried. We come to scatter flowers from full hands on 
"a rare and radiant maiden," on a brave and true man, 
on a sweet and loving lad. We come to bury the dead 
out of our sight by those ceremonies known and felt in 

^^Home Rule'' in Mississippi. 321 

all ages and lands as befitting these sad necessities of 
humanity. If the occasion leads further in its sugges- 
tions, these suggestions do not create the occasion. A 
stricken family craves a funeral service. Shall it be 
refused? They have waited a year and a day for such 
services. Shall they continue to wait ? Shall the wife 
and mother mourn with a bitterer mourning because no 
voice of prayer, no song of comfort, no word of christian 
consolation has been uttered over her lost ones ? Who 
of us can begrudge this little gift ? Who of us shall say 
that such consecration is a desecration ? Who shall 
complain that the Lord's day and the Lord's house are 
employed in this most christian service ? 

Let us with bowed hearts dwell under the shadow of 
this still present calamity. Let us stand around this 
mourning Rizpah, who lies prostrate before her dead, not 
sons alone, but husband, and daughter and son — that 
perfect trinity to woman's heart — who has lain there, lo, 
these many months; who refuses to be comforted, not 
only because they are not, but also because, in every fibre 
of her soul, they are still unburied. Let us gather about 
these lads, who stand in manly silence before the graves 
of their household — the revered father, the oldest brother, 
heir thereby in their consciousness to the headship of 
their own family and generation, and their adored sister, 
and who solemnly await the due rites of the church over 
their beloved dead. May Rizpah now find comfort, 
and the household accept these tributes as a proper 

I shall not dwell upon the scene that rises before your 
eyes in all its horrors. I dare not. My own feelings 
cannot bear the sight. A year ago the 29th of last 
month no happier family blossomed in all this land — in 
any land. The father and daughter had just returned 
from a journey to the North, where the mighty Niagara 
had been first seen by those young eyes, which dreamed 

322 TJie Chisolm Massacre » 

not that they should look ere many weeks on a more 
deadly cataract, and be whelmed beneath its rushing 
torrents of madness and death. She had written a 
description of that trip only two days before the open- 
ing of the fearful drama. They were exulting in the 
opened glory of the coming year — the soft, rich land- 
scape, the blooming trees and fields, the music of birds, 
every gayety of nature in its ecstacy of joy. How beau- 
tiful was that opening landscape, let that daughter's 
words tell, written just a week before the fatal shot : 

"This afternoon brother and I mounted our horses and 
galloped away for a ride. We left the road about five 
miles from town and took to the woods; and I would 
tell you how beautiful they looked if I could. The trees 
are all clothed in a soft and tender foliage, the leaves 
being about half grown. There are lovely flowers of 
every color and variety now in bloom along the creek. 
The beautiful yellow jessamines meet across the stream 
and clasp their soft sweet blooms and tendrils together, 
while the banks are gemmed with forget-me-nots, butter- 
cups, wild violets, dogwood and honeysuckle. O, I wish 
you could have been with us on our ride; then you 
would know how delightful it was. Sweet papa has 
just returned from St. Louis." 

What a pretty picture is this — the lad just budding 
into youth; the sister blossoming into maidenhood, knit 
together in the last ride on earth, amid the glories of a 
southern spring. " Sweet papa," too, is introduced 
thoughtlessly, but with sad significance, into the picture. 
Into that scene of loveliness in home and nature the 
destroyer came. On the fifteenth of the next month, a 
year ago last Wednesday, the grave had closed over three 
of that household, gone down in bloody winding clothes, 
unwept, unhonored and unsung. No prayer, no sermon, 
no word of christian strength and sympathy was uttered 
at the darkened home or at the grave's mouth. The 

''^Home Rule'' in Mississippi. 323 

stroke of fate was never swifter or sharper. " So swift 
treads sorrow on the heels of joy." 

Had this violence happened at the hands of the red 
man, how the whole land would have rung with indig- 
nation ; how fast would have flowed the tears of neigh- 
bors and of the nation; how intense the throb of 
sympathy; how earnest the prayers; how hot the right- 
eous anger. But it was thou, mine equal, my guide, my 
acquaintance. We took sweet counsel together, and 
walked into the house of God in company. It was 
those that had eat bread from his hand that smote him 
unto the death — nay, it was the great, great wrong 
behind, above, below, through these, which bore them on 
too willingly to the deed. To-day the only reparation 
meet is a public funeral where they fell, a public confes- 
sion from those by whom they fell, a public monument 
testifying to their sorrow at the event that has made 
their county fearfully famous in all the world. Such 
lamentation and dedication will yet be made. If they 
or their children fail to do this holy duty, others will 
certainly do the same. It is the eternal law. 

A week ago I rode by a granite statue, exquisitely 
carved, of a brave and beautiful woman. It was erected 
only a year or two since, and is in honor of Hannah 
Dustin,who,in i698,nearly two hundred years ago, there 
showed extraordinary valor in rescuing herself from 
savage captors. The land has never let the memory of 
her courage die, and has at last moulded it into enduring 
shape. None the less will the same land remember the 
not inferior courage and faithfulness of Cornelia Josephine 
Chisolm. Nay, it will the more remember, for this 
woman died for her love and devotion. She chose to 
die. Her " sweet papa " was in jeopardy — nay, was in 
the grip of death. Rather than fly from his side she 
hastened unto it. She prepared for the defense of his life 
with ammunition concealed about her person. She inter- 

324 The Chisolm Massacre, 

posed to save him after her own face had been filled with 
wounds from shot that cleft the iron from the prison bars, 
and her arm had been shattered from wrist to shoulder 
as she covered his heart with its protecting embrace. 
She begged them to take her life and spare her " darling 
papa." But all in vain. Theirs was the long intimacv 
of the oldest child and only daughter with the father, an 
intimacy the deepest that family ties can know, unless it 
be the corresponding affection of the oldest child and 
only son with his mother, and this intimacy is less deh- 
cate and tender in its filial phases. They had made this 
depth of mutual devotion deeper and dearer by their 
winter in Washington, and in northern travel. They 
had clung together these many months of home separa- 
tion, only now to show how they could die together. 

Brave and manly as were the father and son in that 
awful hour, they were exceeded in coolness of daring, in 
intensity of purpose, in completeness of self-possession, 
in readiness of resource, in earnestness of petition, in 
every element of highest manhood, by this frail girl of 
nineteen. Cornelia is a name that ranks high in Roman 
annals. Her boast of her sons as her jewels has shone 
her brightest jewel for more than twenty centuries. But 
this Cornelia excelled the earliest of her name. Her 
jewel was her passionate devotion to her father in this 
hour of death. That shall shine forever. No waste of 
time can dim its brightness. Immortality will but 
increase its beauty and worth. Josephine is a historic 
name. A proud and capable woman stands at the front 
of this century, mastering the master of the world. 
Divorced and degraded, she rules him from her enforced 
seclusion. Those of her blood still sit on thrones, and 
are heirs to imperial crowns. But this Josephine would 
be gladly welcomed by that illustrious lady as her peer 
in every quality of womanhood and manhood, for the 
highest traits of humanity met and mingled in one brief 

''Home Rule" in Mississippi. 325 

On that morning she was a simple girl, " heart-whole," 
as she wrote loving, girlish things. In that hour she 
towered into an angel, princely and potent, glowing in 
the fires of death with the strength and glory of Beatrice 
in the upper circles of the heavens. Welcome to the 
undying names of mankind be that of this worthy suc- 
cessor of the great Cornelia and Josephine. 

We shall not enter upon the field that lies before your 
every thought : Why was this deed done, and what shall 
be the end of these things if allowed to go unrebuked of 
the nation ? Ye need not that I should teach you. Your 
hearts are inditing no pleasant, though perhaps it may 
prove a profitable matter. The sodden lamb, the unleav- 
ened cake, and the bitter herbs made a useful meal to the 
thoughtful Israelite. He reflected on the hour when 
death reigned in every Egyptian household, and his own, 
by miracle, escaped. So we may sup on lenten food this 
hour and find it nutritious to soul and spirit. The angel of 
death, not God-sent, but devil-driven, hovers over much 
of our land, smiting with blood strokes the victims of his 
cruel wrath. He has left your homes free, yet only for 
a season. If we allow murder for opinion's sake to be 
the law in one part of our land, it will soon be of all 
parts. Can one member suffer and not all suffer with 
it ? Can a leading citizen and his family be set on and 
slain in Massachusetts for political causes, and peace and 
safety attend the ballot in Mississippi? No more can 
the reverse be true. The present honeycombing of 
Pennsylvania with murder, which stern and unrelenting 
justice cannot abate; the communistic threatenings in 
Chicago and California; the bloody strikes along the 
Ohio; the tramp wandering murderously over one-half 
of our union, is the natural, the inevitable outcome of the 
unwillingness of the national government to protect its 
citizens in the other half. The theory that State gov- 
ernments have such absolute control of life and death 

326 The Chisolm Massacre, 

within their territories that the nation cannot cross their 
boundaries to protect its citizens and punish their mur- 
derers, has brought us to this weak and miserable pass. 
We are affrighted at the shadow glowering at our own 
hearthstone. In secluded Vermont, in crowded Cincin- 
nati, in remote Maine, in central Indiana, the same terror 
besets us by night, the same deadly danger by day. 

One Indian massacre arouses every part of the land, 
be it the Modocs of Oregon, or the Sioux of Minnesota^ 
or the Utes of Colorado, or the Comanches of Arizona, 
indignation and wrath leaps from end to end of the 
continent, and that, too, when no one dreams that the 
dread foe is to steal into Eastern homes and renew his 
horrors at Wyoming or Schenectady. But this deed 
has universal national application. It proves universal 
national weakness; it breeds universal national disaster. 
A people that cannot protect itself is no people. It 
falls to pieces when it allows its members to be cut to 
to pieces. [Applause.] 

Said a gentlemen to me but yesterday, who had just 
returned from abroad: "The old world is over-governed; 
we, under-governed." Nothing strikes one more 
forcibly on re-entering this land than the lack of national 
power over its own citizens. Unless a stronger govern- 
ment arises, we shall dissolve and disappear as a nation. 
We sigh for the verification of the seal of Massachusetts 
— an uplifted arm holding a sword, which alone gives 
placid quiet under liberty. We have taken the first step 
in verifying our right to exist as a nation on gigantic 
fields of strife by bloody and costly valor. We must 
carry forward and complete this work in the national 
protection of every citizen in his every right. [Ap- 
plause.] We must defend freedom of speech and 
freedom of ballot, or we perish from the earth. 

To this coming perfection of national peace and 
power this sad event will contribute. This family group 

''Ho7ne Rule'' in Mississippi. 327 

are martyrs to American equality of right, to the Declar- 
ation of Independence, and to the preamble of the 
Constitution. It was for the cause of equal rights the 
father fought and family fell. It was for the protection 
of every citizen at the polls : for true Democracy— the 
government of the majority of the voters, legally and 
fearlessly expressed; for the American nation; for the 
rights of mankind, that this citizen of America, his 
brave son and braver daughter, laid down their lives. 

Their cries of agony and death shall never be for- 
gotten, never below, never above. 

" Their moans 
The vales redouble to the hills, and they 
To heaven." 

Their forms will be wrought into marble, painted upon 
canvas, honored in prose and verse, held in high and 
higher remembrance as years and ages go by. The chil- 
dren of the fathers who so ignorantly slew them will 
build their sumptuous sepulchers. That lone and dread 
procession that thrice threaded the dismal path a score 
of miles— a feeble few, without minister, or even sexton, 
to assist them, bearing the bloody dead, in jeopardy of 
life, as they pursued their mournful journey — will yet be 
changed into a solemn, penitential, but glad multitude of 
the citizens of the same county, with their wives and 
daughters and sons, gathering about that green^ spot, 
where they were thus buried, to make confession of 
their fathers' transgression by such deeds of atonement 
as marble, and eulogy, and prayer, and sermon are able 
to give. 

To the future, then, poor stricken wife and mother, 
poor fatheriess and sisterless youth, to the future cast 
your wet but hopeful eyes, wet with joyful tears, tears 
for the dead beloved, joy that they died so gloriously, 
and won in one short hour immortal fame. Had they 
not thus died, the world had never known them. Had 

328 The Chisolm Massacre, 

they not thus died, liberty, equality, fraternity for all our 
land, and all its people, perhaps, had never been attained. 
There may be many another bloody step ere that high 
table-land of humanity in America is reached. 

It may be that others, who now speak and hear, may 
be required also, to make for their nation like holy sacri- 
fice. In this city, where our greatest citizen gave his 
life for the life of the land, we can properly note the slow 
and bleeding feet of the martyrs to Christ and our 
country. May we, if called, be as willing and ready to 
follow the Christ, and these his disciples, for the perfec- 
tion of the work of human regeneration. It may be 
that the whole nation will yet be compelled to wrestle 
in the sweat of this great agony, for equal rights of 
all men, as it had to wrestle for independence and for 
existence. It may be that Enceladus will yet arise from 
under this mountain of permitted prejudice and hate in 
a manner at which all the world shall stand aghast — a 
Kemper County massacre in every hamlet of the land. 
It may be that we shall yet be compelled to cry out in 
bitterness of spirit : 

Ah, me ! for the land that is sown 

With the harvest of despair! 
Where the burning cinders, blown 
From the lips of the overthrown, 

Enceladus, fill the air! 

God forbid that such a horror shall light upon our 
land ! God will not forbid it if we let his children's blood 
cry to him from the ground. God did not forbid, could 
not forbid, Cain's deluge from washing out Cain's sin. 

Yet, if the deluge shall come, if the waters of death 
shall prevail, even above the tops of the highest moun- 
tains, if the nation shall be wrapped in the flames of civil 
strife more dire than any we have yet felt, and our in- 
difference to the fate of our brothers sha'l doom us to a 
worse suffering, out of it all shall the new earth come. 

''Hofne Rule'' in Mississippi. 329 

The deluge shall pass away; the land of righteousness 
of brotherliness, of Christ without caste or violence, or 
hatred, or disloyalty, or murder, shall appear above the 
flood. And then will still gleam forth, nay will more 
brightly blaze, the fame of this just father, this brave 
lad, this Cornelian jewel of filial maidenhood. 

Hope, then, sad hearts; hope and endure, and be 
patient. Pray for those who have despoiled your house 
of its home, its head, its heart. Pray for them by name, 
pray for them with all the heart. So will you be still 
one household, for thus prays your family in heaven. 
In Christ they lived, for Christ they died, with Christ 
they dwell. Live ye in Christ in petition for the forgive- 
ness of your enemies, so that, if spared the martyr's fate, 
you may still rejoice in the martyr's crown. For thus 
you shall win like honor from God, with those of your 
own flesh and blood that have gone up — yes blessed be 
the Lord, gone up, up, up, up, in human love and 
reverence, in earthly fame, into heavenly seats, through 
great tribulation, and have washed their robes of blood, 
and made them white in the bloodier blood of the Lamb, 
who died for them as they died for Him, and will make 
them to reign with Him in peace and bliss forever and 

330 TJie Chisohn Massacre. 



Written on the first anniversary of her death. 

Brave murdered, martyred maid ! 

I've listened long in silence — listened long 

To hear some matchless poet's song, 

Great soul, to thee and thine. 

Thou peerless heroine, 

To soothe thy wandering shade, 

But all in vain. 

Why sleeps the silent lyre, 
With its wild, sobbing strain? 
Why hushed the poets words of fire, 
That rouse brave hearts with manly ire 
'Gainst lawless deeds of blood. 
And wrongs of helpless womanhood. 
In cowardice so mean, in infamy so vast, 
That hell gives in and devils stand aghast. 

Oh, peerless heroine, what tho' thy name 

May lack in euphony and rythm ; 

What boots the name 

When deeds of thine shall burn a deathless flame 

In hearts of valiant men ; 

And thy pure soul, from mortal dross relined, 

Shall glow with magic light, as when 

A dew drop is enshrined 

In bosom of trihedral prism ? 

Cornelia Chisolm ! 

Hadst thou but died in classic Rome, 

When thy great namesake died. 

Thou wouldst have lived in Parian stone. 

Supreme in excellence alone ; 

**Home Rule'' in Mississippi, 331 

Through the long ages dim, 

Thy very name the poet's synonym 

For filial love and courage deified. 

Why should Columbia's daughter's weep 
For Jephtha's virgin daughter? 
Victim to vow^ — dread vow to keep — 
For Ammonitish slaughter. 
Why wander forth in fancy's dreams, 
Along the mountain paths and streams, 
With misty eyes, where Mezpeh's maiden trod, 
Doomed sacrifice to Judea's God, 
And have no tears, brave Kemper girl for thee, 
Thou more than virgin maid of Gallilee ? 
Milan, Ind., May 15, 1878 

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